Monthly Archives: May 2009

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:


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

NFA Cracks Down on CPO Fraud with New Compliance Rule

Proposes Amendments to Compliance Rule 2-45

The National Futures Association (NFA) proposed new amendments to Compliance Rule 2-45 regarding prohibition of loans by pools to commodity pool operators and related parties.  The amendment states that no Member CPO may permit a commodity pool to use any means to make a direct or indirect loan or advance of pool assets to the CPO or any other affiliated person or entity.  The amendment is proposed in response to a recent NFA investigation which revealed that CPOs  had misappropriated pool funds through improper loans from pools to the CPOs or related entities.  The full NFA proposal can be viewed below.


May 27, 2009
Via Federal Express

Mr. David Stawick
Office of the Secretariat
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Three Lafayette Centre
1155 21st Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20581

Re: National Futures Association: Prohibition of Loans by Pools to Commodity Pool Operators and Related Parties – Proposed Adoption of Compliance Rule 2-45

Dear Mr. Stawick:

Pursuant to Section 17(j) of the Commodity Exchange Act, as amended, National Futures Association (“NFA”) hereby submits to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC” or “Commission”) proposed Compliance Rule 2-45 regarding prohibition of loans by pools to commodity pool operators and related parties. This proposal was approved by NFA’s Board of Directors (“Board”) on May 21, 2009. NFA respectfully requests Commission review and approval.


(additions are underscored)


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* * *


No Member CPO may permit a commodity pool to use any means to make a direct or indirect loan or advance of pool assets to the CPO or any other affiliated person or entity.


In February, NFA took two Member Responsibility Actions (“MRAs”) against three NFA Member commodity pool operators (“CPOs”). Although the basis of both MRAs was the CPOs’ failure to cooperate with NFA in an investigation, the limited investigation that NFA was able to perform revealed that the CPOs had misappropriated pool funds through improper loans from pools to the CPOs or related entities. The CFTC charged all three of the CPOs with misappropriating pool assets through improper loans, and all three were charged criminally with fraud.

These two matters are not the first instances of CPOs misappropriating pool participant funds through direct or indirect loans from a pool to the CPO or a related entity. Over the years, there have been a number of regulatory actions involving this type of fraud. Given the significant losses suffered by pool participants as a result of these improper loans, NFA is proposing to prohibit direct or indirect loans from commodity pools to the CPO or any affiliated person or entity.

NFA staff discussed this matter with NFA’s CPO/CTA Advisory Committee, which supported prohibiting loans because it believes that absent extraordinary circumstances there is no legitimate reason for a pool to make a direct or indirect loan to its CPO or a related party. The Committee indicated, however, that participants, including a CPO’s principal, should not be prevented from borrowing against their equity interest in the pool.

NFA Compliance Rule 2-45 provides for a complete prohibition of direct or indirect loans or any advance of pool assets between a pool and its CPO or any other affiliated person or entity. NFA recognizes that there may be circumstances where a carve out to this prohibition may be appropriate, such as where a CPO permits participants, including a pool’s general partner, to borrow against their equity interest in the pool in lieu of a withdrawal, provided that the loan is collateralized by the participant’s interest in the pool. NFA believes that these types of situations are best handled on a case by case basis, with the CPO seeking a no-action letter from NFA.

NFA respectfully requests that the Commission review and approve proposed Compliance Rule 2-45 regarding prohibition of loans by pools to commodity pool operators and related parties.

Respectfully submitted,

Thomas W. Sexton
Senior Vice President and General Counsel


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

Proposed Amendments to the Investment Advisers Act: SEC Requests Feedback

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is proposing certain amendments to the custody rule under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and related forms. Due to the complexity of the various impositions placed on industry professionals by the proposed amendments, the SEC is formally requesting feedback from industry professionals regarding the impact of the new legislation.

Specifically, the amendments address Rules 206(4)-2 and 204-2, and Forms ADV and ADV-E. The amendments are summarized in the bullet points below:

Rule 206(4)-2: All registered investment advisers:

  • must have a reasonable belief that a qualified custodian sends quarterly account statements directly to the advisory clients
  • must undergo an annual surprise audit examination by an independent accountant
  • is presumed to have custody over any clients’ assets that are maintained by the advisers ‘related persons’, so long as those assets are in connection with the advisory services
  • must obtain or receive an annual internal control report, if the adviser also acts as a qualified custodian over client assets
  • must inform the SEC within one business day of finding any material discrepancies during an audit examination

Rule 204-2: All registered investment advisers:

  • must maintain a copy of an internal control report for five years from the end of the fiscal year in which the internal control report is finalized

Form ADV:  All registered investment advisers:

  • must report all related persons who are broker-dealers and to identify which, if any, serve as qualified custodians with respect to client funds
  • must report the dollar amount of client assets and the number of clients of which he/she has custody
  • must identify and provide detailed information regarding the accountants that perform the audits/examinations and prepare internal control reports

Form ADV-E: All PCAOB-registered accountants:

  • must file Form ADV-E with the SEC within 120 days of the completion of the audit examination
  • must submit Form ADV-E to the SEC within four business days of his/her resignation, dismissal from, or other termination of the engagement, accompanied by a statement that includes details of the resignation

All comments to the proposed amendments must be received by the SEC on or before July 28, 2009.  Please contact us if you have any questions on the above proposed amendments or would like to start a hedge fund.  Additionally, we will be submitting our comments to the SEC with regard to the proposed amendments and would like to know what you think as well – please comment below.


For further information regarding the proposed amendments, please refer to the more detailed abstract below.  The full text of the proposed rules can be found here.

SEC Proposed Custody Amendments Abstract

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is proposing certain amendments to the custody rule under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and related forms, with the intent to enhance the protections afforded to clients’ assets under the Advisers Act when an advisor has custody of client funds or securities. These amendments are proposed as a response to a number of recent enforcement actions against investment advisors alleging fraudulent conduct, including misappropriation or other misuse of investor assets.  Specifically, the amendments address Rules 206(4)-2 and 204-2, and Forms ADV and ADV-E. Due to the complexity of the various impositions placed on industry professionals by the proposed amendments, the SEC is formally requesting feedback from industry professionals regarding the impact of the new legislation.

Rule 206(4)-2, also known as the ‘custody rule’, seeks to protect clients’ funds and securities in the custody of registered advisers from misuse or misappropriation by requiring advisers to implement certain controls. The current rule requires registered advisers to maintain their clients’ assets in separate identifiable accounts with a qualified custodian, such as a broker-dealer or bank. Presently, advisors may comply with the rule by either a) having a reasonable belief that a qualified custodian sends quarterly account statements directly to the advisory clients or alternatively b) the advisor sending his/her own quarterly account statements to clients and undergoing an annual surprise audit examination by an independent public accountant. Similarly, an adviser to a pooled investment vehicle may currently comply with the rule by having the pool audited annually by an independent public accountant and distributing the audited financials to the investors in the pool within 120 days of the end of the pool’s fiscal year.

The proposed amendments to Rule 206(4)-2 aim to codify both of the above mentioned compliance alternatives by requiring  that all registered advisers having custody of client assets must a) have a reasonable belief that a qualified custodian sends quarterly account statements directly to the advisory clients and b) undergo an annual surprise examination.  The amendments also explicitly state that an adviser is presumed to have custody over any clients’ assets that are maintained by the advisers ‘related persons’, so long as those assets are in connection with the advisory services. The SEC additionally proposes that if an independent qualified custodian does maintain client assets, but rather the advisor or a related person him/herself serves as a qualified custodian for the client, then the advisor must obtain or receive from the related person an annual internal control report which would include a) an opinion from an independent public accountant registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), and b) a description of the relevant controls in place relating to custodial services and the objectives of these controls, as well as  the accountant’s tests of operating effectiveness and the test results. Lastly, the newly amended rule would also require the adviser and the accountant to inform the SEC within one business day of finding any material discrepancies during an examination that may assist in protecting advisory client assets. Together, these revisions to Rule 206(4)-2 are designed to strengthen the controls relating to the advisors’ custody of client assets and deter advisors from fraudulent activity.

Rule 204-2, governing record maintenance, presently requires that investment advisors obtain or receive a copy of an internal control report from its related person.  The proposed amendment to this rule would additionally require the advisor to maintain the copy for five years from the end of the fiscal year in which the internal control report is finalized. This amendment to Rule 204-2 is designed to further implement safeguards to protect clients’ assets and offset custody-related risks.

Form ADV, which outlines the data to be reported to the SEC by investment advisors, has also been amended to provide the SEC with additional data and more complete information from the perspective of the advisor. Currently, Item 7 of Part1A requires advisers to report on Schedule D of Form ADV each related person that is an investment adviser, and permits advisers to report the names of related person broker-dealers.  The new amendment modifies Item 7 to require an advisor to report all related persons who are broker-dealers and to identify which, if any, serve as qualified custodians with respect to client funds. Similarly, Item 9 of Part1A currently requires advisers to report whether they or a related person have custody of client funds. The new amendment to Item 9 requires an adviser to report the dollar amount of client assets and the number of clients of which he/she has custody. Other reporting duties to be implemented under the new amendments include: a) whether a qualified custodian sends quarterly account statements to investors in pooled investment vehicles managed by the adviser, b) whether these account statements are audited, c) whether the adviser’s clients’ funds  are subject to a surprise examination and the month in which the last examination commenced, and d) whether an independent PCAOB-registered accountant prepare an internal control report when the adviser is also acting as a qualified custodian for the clients’ funds. Schedule D of Form ADV would also be amended to require additional reporting duties of the adviser, including: a) identifying the accountants that perform the audits/examinations and prepare internal control reports, b) providing information about the accountants including address, PCAOB registration, and inspection status, c) indicating the type of engagement (audit, examination, or internal control report), and d) indicating whether the accountant’s report was unqualified.  These proposed amendments to Form ADV are designed to allow the SEC to better monitor compliance with the requirements of Rules 206(4)-2 and 204-2 and better assess the compliance risks of an adviser.

Form ADV-E, which outlines the data to be reported to the SEC by designated accountants, has also been amended to provide the SEC with additional data and more complete information to the SEC from the perspective of the accountant. Currently, the rule requires this form to be filed within 30 days of the completion of the examination, accompanied by a certificate confirming that the accountant completed an examination of the funds and describing the nature and extent of the examination. The SEC proposes to amend this rule governing Forms ADV and ADV-E to extend the grace period within which the forms must be submitted to a period of 120 days from the time of the examination. Based on SEC observations, an adviser’s surprise examination may sometimes continue for an extended period of time, warranting this extension. Additionally, the amendment requires that the accountant submit Form ADV-E to the SEC within four business days of his/her resignation, dismissal from, or other termination of the engagement, accompanied by a statement that includes a) the date of such resignation, dismissal or termination, b) the accountant’s name, address and contact information, and c) an explanation of any problems relating to examination scope or procedure that contributed to such resignation, dismissal or termination. This proposed amendment to Form ADV-E is designed to provide the SEC with the information necessary to further evaluate the need for an examination to determine whether the clients’ assets are at risk.

The SEC strongly urges investment advisors, public auditors/accountants, and related professionals in the field of securities and investments to review the proposed amendments to the Advisers Act and submit relevant feedback that may assist the Commission in analyzing the effectiveness, efficiency, and feasibility of the proposed amendments as well as the possible impact of these new legislative measures on the global marketplace. While all proposed amendments are designed to provide additional safeguards to client funds or securities under adviser custody, the potential ramifications of their enforcement is currently being assessed. Comments may be submitted in electronically via the Commission’s internet comment form (, via e-mail to [email protected], or via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http:/ Paper comments can be sent in triplicate to Elizabeth M. Murphy, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549-1090. All comments to the proposed amendments must be received by the SEC on or before July 28, 2009.  All submissions must refer to File Number S7-09-09, and will be made available to the public via the Commission’s Internet Website:

CPO Exemption for Fund of Hedge Funds

As we have discussed previously, if a hedge fund manager invests fund assets in commodity interests (including futures), then the manager will generally need to be registered as a commodity pool operator (CPO) with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).  The registration requirement also applies to fund of fund (FOF) managers who allocate assets to underlying hedge funds which themselves invest in commodity interests.  There are a number of CPO exemptions available to hedge fund managers.  Likewise, there are two exemptions which may be applicable to fund of fund managers who allocate to funds CPOs or exempt CPOs. Continue reading

Offshore Forex Brokers Race To Fill “Hedging” Gap

NFA Compliance Rule 2-43 Outlaws Forex “Hedging” For NFA Registered Forex Dealers

( The new forex regulations have affected the industry in a number of ways.  Rule 2-43 especially has been a source of ire for some forex managers who have utilized a “hedging strategy” as part of their investment program.  In the forex hedging strategy a trader will have both a long and a short position in a single currency pair.  While these positions are essentially offsetting, some trend following forex traders will hold such positions in order to profit once a trend has been detected.  This strategy was effectively eliminated by the passage of Rule 2-43 for managers trading with forex firms which are registered with the CFTC and NFA Member firms.

This rule provides an opening for offshore forex dealers (who are not NFA Members) to offer this strategy to forex traders.  What you are likely to see, then, is an exodus of trading capital to those brokers which allow hedging strategies (see the two press releases below).  I can think of no clearer example of how regulation is actually forcing capital to go overseas where forex brokers may face lower levels of regulation.  This in turn may actually make forex traders more susceptible to fraudulent practices at the brokerage level (when they trade in countries with less regulation).  Interestingly enough, this movement of money to offshore forex dealers was predicted by the US forex dealers when the rule was announced.

From NFA Release on Compliance Rule 2-43

Although many of the FDMs admit that customers receive no financial benefit by carrying opposite positions, some FDMs believe that if they do not offer the strategy they will lose business to domestic and foreign firms that do.

While some traders may move money to offshore forex dealers, these traders should, however, beware that by trading forex with a non-NFA member firm, they may become subject to state level regulation (and accordingly CFTC registration).  As this is a developing and complex area of law, I always advise forex managers to discuss their business operations with an experienced forex attorney.

Please contact us if you have a question on this issue or if you would like to start a forex hedge fund.  If you would like more information, please see our articles on starting a hedge fund.


InvestTechFX To Continue Forex HEDGING For Traders After NFA Ruling

InvestTechFX released today that the 1 PIP Forex Corporation will continue to allow all types of hedging after the NFA (National Futures Association) ruling against hedging goes into effect on May 15, 2009. As InvestTechFX is not an NFA regulated broker, it is not obligated to adhere to the NFA’s anti-hedging policies.

Toronto, Canada (PRWEB) April 24, 2009 — InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corp commented on the NFA’s new anti-hedging law (NFA Compliance Rule 2-43 regarding Forex orders) currently scheduled to take effect on May 15th, 2009, and released that the No Dealing Desk Forex broker and Software Solutions Corp will be immune to the new law. InvestTechFX’s industry expert noted that the NFA’s move is not entirely unexpected; the spirit of the new regulation is to protect traders from wasteful over-hedging, but the practical implications of the new regulations will likely be counter-productive. Traders who rely on hedging in their strategies will simply take their business to brokers outside the influence of the NFA, such as InvestTechFX. Ironically, the NFA may put US Forex brokers at a disadvantage by barring them from providing the hedging options that their international competitors will not hesitate to offer.

InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corp welcoming hedging explained that “hedging” generally refers to the practice of taking opposite positions against a previous open position in order to reduce risk. In a broader sense, hedged trading means investing to limit exposure and reduce risk. There are several methods of hedging Forex positions, particularly opening short and long positions within the same currency pair at the same time. This type of hedging will be much more difficult after May 15th, 2009, as the new regulations will put strict limits on such strategies. Positions opened prior to May 15th will not be penalized under the new rule, but all positions opened after the initiation date will be effected. Traders who want to continue hedging while staying with an NFA-regulated broker may now have to open separate accounts for their long positions and short positions; something not all traders can afford to do.

InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corp. welcoming hedging strategies noted that new restrictions on hedging are not the only new regulations set forth in the NFA’s new ruling. After May 15th, 2009, all NFA brokers will have to notify traders in writing prior to adjusting or manipulating trades, with the exception of instances in which the adjustment is favorable to a trader or at a trader’s request. Furthermore, the written notification of intent to adjust must take place within 15 minutes or less of the time of execution. This new regulation (Rule 2-43a) will not be going into effect until June 12th, 2009. In regard to customer orders adjusted because of changes in the price structure of a liquidity provider, written notification must be given to customers prior any initial trading (price increases on the account of transaction clearing must be stated before trading takes place, not after or during trading). InvestTechFX’s analyst explained that these new regulations are likely an attempt to increase cost transparency and reduce the hidden fees that many brokers, particularly market makers, rely upon to limit customer profits. Since market makers must always provide the counterparty for a trade (always buy from a seller and sell to a buyer), there is a strong ulterior motive to undercut customer profits, as customer profits always come at the market maker’s expense.

InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corp. welcoming hedging’s analyst elaborated on the threat of expanding regulation in the Forex market, and the unforeseen consequences that well-meaning regulation agencies can impose upon the market. Forex trading is a fast-growing, highly competitive industry, and because of its inherently global nature, traders are not limited to the Forex providers in their own countries. While many would likely work with a local broker, traders can relatively easily move their business abroad if regulation in their own regions becomes more of a burden than a protection. Government guidelines regarding trading clear policies and risk disclosure can serve to keep the industry legitimate and transparent, but regulating hedging in this way borders on telling traders what strategies they can and can’t use. There is ongoing debate over who the NFA is “protecting” with the new policies, as many of the larger regulatory bodies have a reputation for acting out of the long-term interests of companies instead of retail traders. InvestTechFX’s representative explained that the company could not decisively endorse or condemn the use of mirror position hedging, but did state that the position of InvestTechFX is that the decisions regarding trading strategies should be left to the traders, not the regulators.

InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corporation welcoming hedging is a No Dealing Desk Forex Broker and Federal Canadian Corporation. InvestTechFX offers a 1 PIP fixed spread on 6 major currency pairs, along with a comprehensive account groups system, including interest free, scalping, EA, Micro, and VIP accounts. As a No Dealing Desk, InvestTechFX never takes positions against customers, and has no interest or influence over the trades executed by its customers.


New Forex Trading Rule by NFA About Hedging Positions Will Change the Trading Game

Forex market is getting revised by continuous trade rule changes. In such uncertain times, Forex Profit Farm may be the perfect solution for people looking to succeed in forex trading.

New York, NY (PRWEB) April 30, 2009 — The forex market is booming with addition of new players every minute because of the high and lucrative potential of making money. Such fast growth poses its own challenges, but at the same time also present with the opportunity to redefine the industry by writing new rules or guidelines.

One such rule that NFA came up with recently is regarding Anti-Hedging. This rule is coming into effect starting 15 may 2009. As per this new law, the trader community cannot create hedged trades.

Rahul Gupta, owner of Forex Profit Farm says, “Currently a forex trader can have two opposite directional trades open at the same time on a single currency pair. So say if you are trading EUR/USD currency pair, you can have short as well as a long trade opened at the same time, which is what is called hedging. The traders do that mostly to judge the direction of the market. Though a hedged open long and short trade on a single currency pair will offset the gain of one position against the other, but when the direction of market trend becomes clear, traders close the losing trade and keep the winning one going. It is a cruel way to trade, but it is very common.”

With that now going to be not possible come May 15, 2009, all traders who use such forex trading practices, will now have to come up with different trading strategies. This is a clear concrete step by NFA to make the forex industry more mature and keep the exponential growth under check.

But Rahul says “Traders who are using best forex trading system don’t have to worry about anything at all. A good trading strategy is independent of such techniques and always remain non-effected from changing rules of similar nature. Traders who use sound trading principles, won’t feel the effect of this new rule at all.”

This is very true because National Future Association (NFA) has passed this new rule to make the unfair practices offered by some of the traders as ineffective, but at the same time preserve the interest of the experienced traders who trade forex for a living.

Like any new rule which is introduced by a governing body, this one also has its share of traders opposing it, but most of the experienced traders see it as a positive step towards regulating the forex trading industry. In such time, a sound trading strategy is all that a trader needs to keep making money by selling one currency against other.

About Forex Profit Farm:

Forex Profit farm is one of the Best forex system available which can help traders achieve the financial independence they always wanted. The system not only comes with an accurate trading strategy with clearly defined instructions on when to enter and when to close the trade, but it also covers the important aspect of trade management that will help traders to make maximum profit from their trades. Covered in multiple manuals and videos, Forex Profit Farm is a must-have system for anyone looking to make money by trading forex.

SEC Proposes More Onerous Custody Rules For Hedge Fund Managers

Hedge Funds to be Subject to “Surprise Exams”

In addition to the likelihood of hedge fund registration, the SEC is now proposing to have “gatekeepers” to make sure that investment advisors are not engaged in any fraudulent behavior.  When and if such a requirement is adopted, it will further burden investment advisors with more paperwork.  “Surprise exams” could also be disastrous to the small investment advisory shops which would need to divert resources from trading and operations to dealing with such surprise exams.  At all levels of the investment advisory spectrum this will increase costs.


SEC Proposes Rule Amendments to Strengthen Safeguards of Investor Funds Controlled by Investment Advisers


Washington, D.C., May 14, 2009 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today proposed rule amendments to substantially increase protections for investors who entrust their money to investment advisers.

The SEC is seeking public comment on the proposed measures, which are intended to ensure that investment advisers who have “custody” of clients’ funds and securities are handling those assets properly. In some recent SEC enforcement actions, firms and principals have been charged with misusing clients’ money and covering up their illicit activities by distributing false account statements showing non-existent funds. The additional safeguards proposed by the SEC include a yearly “surprise exam” of investment advisers performed by an independent public accountant to verify client assets. In addition, when an adviser or an affiliate directly holds client assets, a custody control review would have to be conducted by a PCAOB-registered and inspected accountant.

“These new safeguards are designed to decrease the likelihood that an investment adviser could misappropriate a client’s assets and go undetected,” said SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro. “That’s because an independent public accountant will be looking over their shoulder on at least an annual basis.”

Andrew J. Donohue, Director of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management, added, “The amendments proposed by the Commission today would significantly strengthen controls over client assets held by registered investment advisers — especially when those assets are held directly by the adviser itself or a related person of the adviser.”

Unlike banks or broker-dealers, investment advisers generally do not have physical custody of their clients’ funds or securities. Instead, client assets are typically maintained with a broker-dealer or bank (a “qualified custodian”), but the adviser still may be deemed to have custody because the adviser has authority to withdraw their clients’ funds held by the qualified custodian. Or the qualified custodian may be affiliated with the adviser, which may give the adviser indirect access to client funds.

The SEC’s proposed rule amendments, if adopted, would promote independent custody and enable independent public accountants to act as third-party monitors.

One proposed amendment would require all registered advisers with custody of client assets to undergo an annual “surprise exam” by an independent public accountant to verify those assets exist.

Another proposed amendment would apply to investment advisers whose client assets are not held or controlled by a firm independent of the adviser. In such cases, the investment adviser will be required to obtain a written report — prepared by a PCAOB-registered and inspected accountant — that, among other things, describes the controls in place, tests the operating effectiveness of those controls, and provides the results of those tests. These reports are commonly known as SAS-70 reports. This review would have to meet PCAOB standards — providing an important level of quality control over the accountants performing the review.

The proposed measures also would include reporting requirements designed to alert the SEC staff and investors to potential problems at an adviser, and provide the Commission with important information for risk assessment purposes. An adviser would be required to disclose in public filings with the Commission, among other things, the identity of the independent public accountant that performs its “surprise exam,” and amend its filings to report if it changes accountants. The accountant would have to report the termination of its engagement with the adviser and, if applicable, any problems with the examination that led to the termination of its engagement. If the accountants find any material discrepancies during the surprise examination, they would have to report them to the Commission.

The proposed amendments also would require that all custodians holding advisory client assets directly deliver custodial statements to advisory clients rather than through the investment adviser, and that advisers opening custody accounts for clients instruct those clients to compare account statements they receive from the custodian with those received from the adviser. These additional safeguards would make it more difficult for an adviser to prepare false account statements, and more likely that clients would find discrepancies.

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Public comments on today’s proposed rule amendments must be received by the Commission within 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register.

The full text of the proposed rule amendments will be posted to the SEC Web site as soon as possible.

Northwest Hedge Fund Society Event

Green Hedge Fund Discussion

The Northwest Hedge Fund Socitey will be having an event on Thursday, May 21 at 6pm.  I will be attending this event and in Seattle that day as well.

Event Details:

This event is generously sponsored by EzeCastle Integration and NorthPoint Trading Partners, LLC.  Eze Castle Integration is the market leader in outsourced IT technology and services for hedge funds and other specialty investment-management firms. NorthPoint Trading Partners offers industry-leading prime brokerage services to Hedge Funds as well as Long-only Asset Managers. The firm has a reputation for exceptional client service and competitive pricing. Through their multiple clearing relationships, fund managers have the advantage of choosing clearing and custody services from the industry’s largest global providers.


  • John Kilpatrick, Managing Member, Greenfield Advisors LLC


  • Mark Cox, CEO, New Energy Fund LP
  • Gautam Barua, Partner, Aclaria Capital
  • Steve Hall, Managing Director, Vulcan Ventures
  • John Siegler, Managing Director, Ridgecrest Capital Partners


The Harbor Club: 801 Second Avenue, Suite 17, Seattle, WA 98104

Important Information Regarding Parking:

Parking is available in the Norton Building Garage below the club. However, please note that valet parking is effective until 6:30 each evening. If you park here during the valet hours and stay through the end of the event, your keys will be brought to the club’s front desk when the garage converts to standard parking.

The Norton Building Garage can fill up quickly. As an alternative, the Harbor Club recommends the CPS Parking located at 721 1st Avenue.
· Free for Members
· Non-member fee: $75

Hedge Fund Incubating and Seeding

Syndicated Post on Hedge Fund Seeding

As I mentioned in a previous article about hedge fund compensation, I have recently come across a very good blog called Ten Seconds Into the Future by Bryan Goh of First Avenue Partners, a hedge fund seeder.  Bryan’s posts are very insightful and I recommend all managers take a look at his writings.

The post below discusses hedge fund incubating and seeding platforms which offer managers a turn-key solution to getting a fund up and running.  As I point out in this blog from time to time, many managers neglect to really create a detailed business plan which addresses many of the business aspects of running a fund.  In this respect incubation and seeding programs are often good places for a manager who is looking to just focus on the trading.  The article below discusses some of the aspects of these programs and includes considerations for managers contemplating such an arrangement.

Please feel free to comment below or contact me if you have any questions or would like more information on starting a hedge fund.  The original post can be found here (ephasis and bolding in the original).


Hedge Fund Incubation and Seeding. A perspective for 2009.

by Bryan Goh

In the interest of full disclosure, First Avenue Partners of which I am a partner, runs a hedge fund seeding and incubation business. I generally don’t talk my own book and I don’t intend to start now, but I will speak generally about the industry without specific reference to what we do. So please read this with a skeptical eye, and if seeding sounds like it makes sense, there are a range of seeders besides FAP out there. Talk to as many of them as you can, and please feel free to tell me if I am out of my mind. With that out of the way, let’s begin:

In 2006 if someone suggested that it was a good idea to be seeding and incubating hedge funds, I would have been highly skeptical. Managers who were any good were raising large amounts of capital on their own on day one, mediocre managers were able to start with credible amounts of day one capital and even managers who while talented had no idea how to run an investment management business could get into business. The hedge fund seeder faced insurmountable adverse selection problems.

Hedge fund managers willing to give away either a share in their management company or a share of their fees tended to be of lower quality. You didn’t want to be seeding them.

Hedge fund managers of good quality but who understood the business development support role of a seeder and were happy to work with one were labelled as poorer quality and found it difficult to raise capital, so also were from a business perspective, less attractive to a seeder.

Seeding was simply a negative signal to the market all around.

In fact, seeders play an important part in the hedge fund industry. They provide all kinds of support that the fledgling hedge fund manager simply doesn’t want to bother with such as infrastructure, business development and marketing, a stable base of capital, corporate governance, risk management and a host of intangibles such as a sounding board for trade or business ideas.

Of course until the adverse selection problem was resolved, none of this really mattered. And well it should be. The adverse selection up until the middle of 2007 was severe.

2008/2009. What’s changed? Investors risk appetite has been drastically reduced. The number of new funds starting up is down drastically, the number of fund closures is up drastically. The size of the hedge fund industry has halved in size by assets under management according to several of the usual industry sources such as HFR, Eurekahedge and surveys conducted by the major prime brokers. Hedge funds which were previously closed to new investment with multiples of billions of assets under management are reopening their funds (after losing big chunks in losses and redemptions) and finding it hard to raise new capital. This it should be said, in an industry which managed to lose 20% in 2008 while the long only world lost double, and only in the second half of the year when regulated banks failed and regulators decided it was a good idea to ban short selling.

Investors are more discerning. Quality of the hedge fund manager matters. Quality of the strategy, idea generation, execution and trading, mid and back office, systems, counterparty management, liability management, corporate governance, investor management, all matter and matter more than they ever did 2 years ago when investors were happy to fund a business plan with two phone lines and a credit line.

That’s a lot of considerations for a hedge fund manager striking out on his own. What is my strategy? Will it sell? How do I represent it? Who should my counterparties be? Ditto service providers. Who should be on the board of the fund? My best mate’s uncle or an industry professional? Who are my potential investors beyond my partners and I, our best mates’ uncles and aunts? Should there be lock ups, gates, side pockets, NAV suspension rights, what are the right terms? And how do we divide the spoils?

A seeder can help. There are different seeding models to suit different manager objectives and immediate needs. Do I give up fees? Do I give up equity? What control does the seeder have? What services beyond capital can the seeder provide? Often the advice and structuring are worth as much as the capital. And if I brought all this in-house, what would be the cost of it all? Would it be cheaper than a seeder?

The raison d’etre of a seeder has never before been clearer; the value that the seeder brings never been greater.

2009 and beyond: For the prospective investor in a seeding fund, what is the opportunity?

First of all, the investor must want to invest in hedge funds. No amount of incubation economics can make up for a bad investment. Over the last 10 years, hedge funds have done better than long only equities (MSCI World), bonds (Barcap Global Bonds, the old Lehman bond index), commodities (CRB), and real estate (UK IPD all sectors) for example. In 2008, hedge funds lost less money than real estate, equities and commodities. In fixed income, depending on credit quality, you would have lost as much in credit (high yield) as in equities, or lost low single digits if you were in guvvies.

Second of all, smaller, newer funds tend to do better than the big funds. Its not always true but there are various academic studies that seem to indicate that this might be the case over a large sample of managers across the gamut of strategies. The truth is that in some strategies size is an advantage. Nothing like an 800 pound gorilla of an activist or distressed debt manager. For trading and liquidity constrained strategies, beyond a certain size the fund begins to behave like a beached whale. The real advantage with smaller funds is that they haven’t yet accumulated the arrogance that comes with multi billion dollar success to deny the hapless investor transparency, clarity or airtime. Beyond the transparency necessary for the proper monitoring and risk management of a fund investment, being in constant touch with the manager and being involved with their business and playing a part in their success is a highly rewarding activity. It is certainly why I love it.

If one is to invest in start up and new managers, there are of course additional risks. With less money to manage there is also less money to spend on systems and people. Shorter track records also make an econometric assessment harder to do. Risk of failure is higher than for a large fund, but surpringly lower than for a mid sized fund. Anecdotal and some albeit stale studies have found that while the big multi billion funds may have very low mortality rates, medium sized funds’ mortality rates can be substantially higher than that of small funds. Why is this? Big funds are well resourced and have the financial viability to maintain their resources. Also, big funds often have defined succession planning. The founding portfolio manager rarely abdicates but does take on a Presidential role rather than as lead General of the Campaign. Small funds may be thinner on resources but are likely fuller on resourcefulness and the drive to succeed. Medium sized funds exhibit high mortality probably because of lack of succession planning so that even a great track record may not survive beyond the management of the founder. Whatever it is, investing in small funds needs to be compensated over and above the returns they generate. Some seeders take a stake of equity in the investment management company, some take a share of the fees charged by the fund manager, and some take some combination of both. Some seeders provide only investment capital, some provide working capital as well, and still others provide infrastructure, risk management, marketing or other business advice.

Seeding and incubation, like so many things, is a highly cyclical business. A couple of years ago, the managers entertaining seed deals were mostly those who could not raise day one capital on their own. The number of hedge fund managers cognisant of the complexities of running a hedge fund business and saw the logic of partnering up with a seeder were few and far between. Today the landscape has changed. The pipeline of managers is supplied by both types of managers. Seeders are spoilt for choice. Where once capital went in search of talent which was relatively scarce, the world is relatively well supplied with talent. It is capital which is scarce.

Of course the competitive landscape for seeders has changed as well. The number of seeders has diminished significantly, as has the capital available for seeding. Why? It was a highly cyclical business and it was victim not of the bust but of the boom of the last 5 years. Too much money was chasing too few deals. Manager quality times deal terms equals a constant. In the good times, that constant was rather low. But the pendulum has swung the other way. Many of the deals struck in good times broke and incubation as well as incubated funds performed poorly, not always for lack of talent. More often than not, talent was abundant but non-investment support was not forthcoming or deals were structurally unsound and failed to align interests. As the tide of risk and capital ebbs, it leaves many stranded, but as it flows once more the opportunities in seeding appear brighter than ever.

In that context hedge fund seeding and incubation is a recovery play, one that if structured well, keeps paying for years to come.

MFA Supports Hedge Fund Registration

MFA Lobbyist Testifies to Congress Regarding Hedge Fund Registration

In a somewhat surprising move, the MFA stated to Congress today that it supports registration for hedge fund managers.  Below is a press release regarding the statement.  The MFA also released its final written testimony to Congress which can be found here. CNBC has also produced a short news clip on this event which can be found here (note: you may have to watch a commercial for pajamagram).

I will continue reporting more on this issue and will also update this post once I have had a chance to review the written testimony.

News Release
Meg Bode
(516) 869-6610

May 7, 2009


WASHINGTON, DC – In testimony before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises hearing, “Perspectives on Hedge Fund Registration,” Managed Funds Association (MFA) today announced its support for mandatory registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), of investment advisers, including advisers to private pools of capital under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

Richard H. Baker, MFA President and CEO, said, “Though hedge funds were not the cause of the ongoing problems in our financial markets and our economy, MFA and our members share the commitment of policy makers to enact measures that will help restore stability to our markets, strengthen financial institutions and restore investor confidence. We believe supporting mandatory registration for investment advisers is just one of the many important steps that can be taken towards these mutually shared goals.

Baker noted, “This proposed framework goes beyond that recently called for by Treasury Secretary Geithner. The Administration’s proposal called for only the largest fund advisers to be registered for the purpose of assessing their systemic relevance. The registration regime we are supporting today, which has been driven largely by changes in markets and the growing demands of investors, is more comprehensive and will subject the vast majority of investment advisers, including the largest and those considered most systemically relevant, to the SEC’s registration requirements.

Baker’s testimony stressed that while hedge funds are important to the capital markets and the financial system, the relatively small size and scope of the industry, with approximately $1.5 trillion in assets under management, did not pose significant systemic risk. He also stressed that hedge funds are substantially less leveraged than banks, have outperformed the overall market and have not sought any federal assistance.

Baker indicated that to fulfill these additional responsibilities, without diminishing the agency’s ability to meet its core mission of investor protection, the SEC would need additional resources specifically for personnel, technology and training and recruitment.

“A registration framework that overwhelms the resources, technology and capabilities of regulators will not achieve the intended objective, and will greatly impair the ability of the regulator to fulfill their existing responsibilities, as well as their new responsibilities.”

In addition to supporting registration, MFA’s written testimony outlined several key principles that they believe Congress, the Administration and other policy makers should consider as they discuss changes to the financial regulatory system.

A copy of MFA’s written testimony is available at

About Managed Funds Association

MFA is the voice of the global alternative investment industry. Its members are professionals in hedge funds, funds of funds and managed futures funds, as well as industry service providers. Established in 1991, MFA is the primary source of information for policy makers and the media and the leading advocate for sound business practices and industry growth. MFA members include the vast majority of the largest hedge fund groups in the world who manage a substantial portion of the approximately $1.5 trillion invested in absolute return strategies. MFA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with an office in New York. For more information, please visit:

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Bay Area Hedge Fund Roundtable Event

Panel Discussion on State of Hedge Fund Industry

Yesterday afternoon (May 6th) the Bay Area Hedge Fund Roundtable, a group of professionals within the hedge fund industry, gathered for a panel presentation entitled “Change…Critical Legal, Tax, Acounting and Regulatory Updates You Need to Know.”  The presentation was moderated by Pamela S. Nichter (Osterweis Capital Management) and included the following panel participants:

Vincent J. Calcagno (Rothstein Kass)
Geoffrey Haynes (Shartsis Friese)
Tony Hassan (Ernst & Young)
Anita K. Krug (Howard Rice)

Presentations like these are great because they allow professionals to share insights into what is going on in different parts of the industry – many of the topics discussed allowed the panelists to really dig deep into the issues and provide some context to what is happening at both the regulatory and investor levels.  I took notes during the presentation and will summarize some of the main points discussed by each of the presenters (please don’t hold anything against the speakers if I mis-paraphrase or mis-interpret and as always nothing in this summary is tax or legal advice)…

Anita K. Krug

Anita discussed a number of the laws which have been discussed or proposed over the past 6 to 8 months including the following:

  • Barney Frank’s Recent Comments (see Reuters article)
  • Mary Shapiro’s Recent Comments (see Bloomberg article where Shapiro says she wants the ability to make rules regulating hedge funds)
  • Discussion of the Hedge Fund Transparency Act which was proposed in the Senate earlier this year (see also Overview of the Hedge Fund Transparency Act)
  • Hedge Fund Advisor Registration Act which was proposed in the House earlier this year
  • Geithner’s hedge fund proposals (see NY Times article for background information)
  • Discussion of the past short selling rules (see HFLB article) and the new short selling rules which will be closer to the old “uptick” rule (see SEC overview; note: I have not yet had an opportunity to thoroughly review these proposed rules)
  • European Rules which have been proposed which may have an effect on US based managers with EU investors (Anita raised many of the same issues which were also raised in this article)

Geoffrey Haynes and Vincent J. Calcagno

Geoffrey and Vincent went back and forth discussing some of the tax issues which managers are likely to face this year and potentially going forward.  This discussion included the following issues:

  • Discussion of the new offshore deferral rules by dint of new Section 457A of the Internal Revenue Code (see generally this alert).  Note: discussions on the ramifications of this new section to managers who currently have deferral arrangements took a majority of the time.  There are a number of issues involved including issues with side pockets, options, and non-conventional performance fee periods.
  • San Francisco Payroll Tax of 1.5% (see background on this issue here)
  • Discussion of the Levin proposal to tax the carried interest as ordinary income (see Hedge Fund Carried Tax Increase?).  [The panelists seemed to think that Congress would not vote on this bill until sometime in 2010 (if the bill was actually even voted on) with an effective date, if passed, of sometime in 2010 – the panelists did not seem to think it would be retroactively applied.]
  • Discussion of a bill which would eliminate UBTI for U.S. based non-taxable investors investing in U.S. hedge funds which utilize leverage (note: I was not aware of this bill and am not sure what bill exactly was referred to – please feel free to contact me if you know about this bill).  The panelists seemed to think this bill was likely DOA.
  • Discussion of the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Bill by Senator Levin (see Senator Levin’s press release)
  • Discussion of Obama’s Offshore Tax Plan (see generally the White House press release)

Tony Hassan

Tony discusses what is changing in the area of hedge fund operations.  Tony’s discussion of current topics was maybe one of the more important parts of the panel in terms of providing insight on current investing trends and due diligence requests.  Many of the items in this section were part of a dialogue between Tony and Vince as noted in the parenthesis below.

  • There is no secret that due diligence is a more central and important part of the investing process than it was previously.  (Tony and Vince)
  • Due diligence is also changing in many respects – at E&Y Tony has had specific requests from potential invests to send them directly the financial statements.  Of course this brings up many legal and client issues (the hedge fund, not the potential investor, is the client of E&Y) and because of this these requests are often denied. (Vince)
  • Managers are providing verified transparency “quarterly reviews” which aim to show investors that the fund’s assets are actually there.  (Vince)
  • Some funds are instituting a half-yearly audit (in addition to the end of year audit).  (Vince)
  • Some funds are instituting agreed upon procedure reports.  In these reports the auditor will come in an verify that certain procedures are being completed.  This may be especially important with regard to the valuation of the fund’s assets.  (Vince)
  • Tony noted that this is really a new form of due diligence and used the term “Hedge Fund Due Diligence 2.0” – a term I used in October of 2008 (see post).
  • Investor questions to hedge funds are changing.  While previous questions would have stopped after “Do you have a 3rd party administrator?”  Now the questioning continues – investors want to know about the administrators technical expertise, who exactly will be the account representative and what type of capital markets experience does that person or group have, what inputs will be used to value assets, etc.  Investors also want to know what sort of contingency plan is in place should the administrator fail or if there is a disaster; investors will want to know if the fund is keeping shadow books.  (Tony)
  • Tony also participated in the discussion with Pamela below with regard to managed accounts.

Pamela S. Nichter

Pamela, the moderator of the discussion, also weighted in on certain operational issues which fund managers should be prepared for in the new climate.  In general Ms. Nichter is seeing more investor requests and communications.  Now there is greater communication between the investor and the fund manager.  Ms. Nichter also discussed the trend toward greater liquidity and transparency through separate account structures.

Separate accounts are something that more and more investors are seeking but there are many considerations for managers.  Specifically separate accounts can be a drain on resources, especially if the investors request their own specific administrators or auditors.  Because of the greater amount of resources which need to go into the back office to handle what is in essence a more traditional asset management business, the manager must be ready to change the business model to a certain extent.  Specific issues will include:

  • having a robust trade allocation policy
  • understanding that there is likely to be a disparity of performance
  • potential registration issues
  • potential integration issues
  • performance reporting issues (may need to go back to GIPS)

Questions and Conclusion

After the panel finished their discussion the floor was open to questions.  During this time there were a number of good questions.  One issue focused on what will performance fees look like going forward which led to a discussion about creative performance fees (like instituting some sort of clawback provision like what is found in private equity funds).  Another issue was whether and to what extent the Managed Funds Association will be representing the industry during this time of legislative/regulatory changes.  The answer is that the MFA will be doing everything it possibly can to represent the hedge fund industry and it is our job to make sure that the MFA knows how the industry feels about many of the current legislative proposals.