Monthly Archives: July 2010

New Accredited Investor Definition

Fund Managers Should Amend Subscription Documents

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Act”) immediately changed the definition of accredited investor. Prior to the enactment of the Act, an accredited investor could use the value of their primary residence to compute the $1,000,000 net worth requirement. Now, investors may not use the value of their primary residence to determine their net worth.  The mortgage or indebtedness on the primary residence, also, does not count against net worth except to the extent that the indebtedness exceeds the fair market value of the residence (see SEC discussion below).

Revising Subscription Documents

Some managers have subscription documents which describe the prior manner of calculating net worth for accredited investors. Such managers should immediately revise their subscription documents. Additionally, if a manager accepts investments from previous individual investors who have declared they are “accredited investors,” the manager should have such investors verify they meet the new net worth requirement. Generally the manager can accomplish this through a fairly simple verification or confirmation form. For those managers who have administration firms process subscription documents, the administration firm should be providing these verification forms to the subscribing investors. With respect to individual investors who are not making additional subscriptions, there is no current requirement to verify their net worth under the new rules.

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Below are the Dodd-Frank laws dealing with the new accredited investor standard.

SEC. 413. ADJUSTING THE ACCREDITED INVESTOR STANDARD.

(a) IN GENERAL.—The Commission shall adjust any net worth standard for an accredited investor, as set forth in the rules of the Commission under the Securities Act of 1933, so that the individual net worth of any natural person, or joint net worth with the spouse of that person, at the time of purchase, is more than $1,000,000 (as such amount is adjusted periodically by rule of the Commission), excluding the value of the primary residence of such natural person, except that during the 4-year period that begins on the date of enactment of this Act, any net worth standard shall be $1,000,000, excluding the value of the primary residence of such natural person.

(b) REVIEW AND ADJUSTMENT.—

(1) INITIAL REVIEW AND ADJUSTMENT.—

(A) INITIAL REVIEW.—The Commission may undertake a review of the definition of the term ‘‘accredited investor’’, as such term applies to natural persons, to determine whether the requirements of the definition, excluding the requirement relating to the net worth standard described in subsection (a), should be adjusted or modified for the protection of investors, in the public interest, and in light of the economy.

(B) ADJUSTMENT OR MODIFICATION.—Upon completion of a review under subparagraph (A), the Commission may, by notice and comment rulemaking, make such adjustments to the definition of the term ‘‘accredited investor’’, excluding adjusting or modifying the requirement relating to the net worth standard described in subsection (a), as such term applies to natural persons, as the Commission may deem appropriate for the protection of investors, in the public interest, and in light of the economy.

(2) SUBSEQUENT REVIEWS AND ADJUSTMENT.—

(A) SUBSEQUENT REVIEWS.—Not earlier than 4 years after the date of enactment of this Act, and not less frequently than once every 4 years thereafter, the Commission shall undertake a review of the definition, in its entirety, of the term ‘‘accredited investor’’, as defined in section 230.215 of title 17, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor thereto, as such term applies to natural persons, to determine whether the requirements of the definition should be adjusted or modified for the protection of investors, in the public interest, and in light of the economy.

(B) ADJUSTMENT OR MODIFICATION.—Upon completion of a review under subparagraph (A), the Commission may, by notice and comment rulemaking, make such adjustments to the definition of the term ‘‘accredited investor’’, as defined in section 230.215 of title 17, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor thereto, as such term applies to natural persons, as the Commission may deem appropriate for the protection of investors, in the public interest, and in light of the economy.

SEC. 415. GAO STUDY AND REPORT ON ACCREDITED INVESTORS.

The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study on the appropriate criteria for determining the financial thresholds or other criteria needed to qualify for accredited investor status and eligibility to invest in private funds, and shall submit a report to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives on the results of such study not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act.

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SEC Discussion on New Net Worth Rules

Section 179. Rule 215 – Accredited Investor

Question 179.01

Question: Under Section 413(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act, the net worth standard for an accredited investor, as set forth in Securities Act Rules 215 and 501(a)(5), is adjusted to delete from the calculation of net worth the “value of the primary residence” of the investor. How should the “value of the primary residence” be determined for purposes of calculating an investor’s net worth?

Answer: Section 413(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act does not define the term “value,” nor does it address the treatment of mortgage and other indebtedness secured by the residence for purposes of the net worth calculation. As required by Section 413(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Commission will issue amendments to its rules to conform them to the adjustment to the accredited investor net worth standard made by the Act. However, Section 413(a) provides that the adjustment is effective upon enactment of the Act. When determining net worth for purposes of Securities Act Rules 215 and 501(a)(5), the value of the person’s primary residence must be excluded. Pending implementation of the changes to the Commission’s rules required by the Act, the related amount of indebtedness secured by the primary residence up to its fair market value may also be excluded. Indebtedness secured by the residence in excess of the value of the home should be considered a liability and deducted from the investor’s net worth. [July 23, 2010]

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Other related hedge fund law articles:

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

Commodity Position Limits After Dodd-Frank

CFTC to Establish Energy Position Limits

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Act”) includes a number of key provisions which will affect the investment management industry in important ways. For example, the Act includes a mandate for the CFTC to impose position limits across different markets, including the energy markets, the agricultural markets and with respect to trading in certain OTC derivatives. These new position limits must be implemented by CFTC orders or through rulemakings within the next six to nine months depending on the individual markets.

New CEA Section 4a(c)

The Act establishes new SEC Section 4a(c), portions of which we have reprinted below. Generally the new sections will require the CFTC to do the following:

  • establish limits on “exempt commodities” within 180 days of the passage of the Act. [The term “exempt commodity” is defined in CEA Section 1a(14) to generally include those commodities which are not financially based commodities and not agricultural commodities. Generally the import of this provision is to have the CFTC implement position limits on energy related commodities and futures.]
  • establish limits on agricultural commodities within 270 days of the passage of the Act.
  • establish the aggregate number or amount of positions in certain contracts based upon the same underlying commodity that may be held by any person, including any group or class of traders, for each month.

The above requirements are generally subject to “bona fide hedging” exemptions and the new Section 4a(c)(2) requires the CFTC to define what constitutes a bona fide hedging transaction.

* Please note the above is a broad generalization of the applicable new sections of the CEA

CFTC’s Previous Efforts to Set Energy Position Limits

To an extent, we will look to the CFTC’s prior efforts to see where they may land with respect to setting limits. In January 2010, the CFTC proposed position limits designed to prevent any one participant from developing a concentration of futures positions (see generally Federal Register Release 75 FR 4143). The proposed limits would have restricted the position energy traders could hold and addressed concerns many lawmakers had about the connection between those traders and rising energy prices. While the proposed limits only applied to four exchange-traded energy commodities (crude oil, natural gas, and two other types of fuel), the CFTC will be revisiting those efforts to meet the new, more expansive mandate under the Wall Street Reform Act. [Note: you can view previous comments from the public on this issue on the CFTC website.]  The CFTC will be working with other agencies, including the SEC, the Federal Reserve Board, and other regulators in its efforts.

Likely Impact

These mandates will have a significant impact on the energy futures market. In 2009, more than 377 million energy futures and options contracts were traded on CFTC-regulated exchanges and this number is anticipated to increase. Energy traders will now face position limits with respect to the energy contracts that were previously largely unregulated. In addition, it is important to note that under the Act, the CFTC can set position limits not only on persons, but also on any “group or class of traders”–which means it could apply a limit, for example, to all airlines in the aggregate. While we will not know the full impact for some time, when the limits are implemented there are likely to be some groups and individuals who will need to carefully monitor their positions.

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New CEA Provisions

Section 4a(a)(2) of the Commodity Exchange Act

‘‘(2) ESTABLISHMENT OF LIMITATIONS.—

‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—In accordance with the standards set forth in paragraph (1) of this subsection and consistent with the good faith exception cited in subsection (b)(2), with respect to physical commodities other than excluded commodities as defined by the Commission, the Commission shall by rule, regulation, or order establish limits on the amount of positions, as appropriate, other than bona fide hedge positions, that may be held by any person with respect to contracts of sale for future delivery or with respect to options on the contracts or commodities traded on or subject to the rules of a designated contract market.

‘‘(B) TIMING.—

‘‘(i) EXEMPT COMMODITIES.—For exempt commodities, the limits required under subparagraph (A) shall be established within 180 days after the date of the enactment of this paragraph.

‘‘(ii) AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES.—For agricultural commodities, the limits required under subparagraph (A) shall be established within 270 days after the date of the enactment of this paragraph.

‘‘(C) GOAL.—In establishing the limits required under subparagraph (A), the Commission shall strive to ensure that trading on foreign boards of trade in the same commodity will be subject to comparable limits and that any limits to be imposed by the Commission will not cause price discovery in the commodity to shift to trading on the foreign boards of trade.

‘‘(3) SPECIFIC LIMITATIONS.—In establishing the limits required in paragraph (2), the Commission, as appropriate, shall set limits—

‘‘(A) on the number of positions that may be held by any person for the spot month, each other month, and the aggregate number of positions that may be held by any person for all months; and

‘‘(B) to the maximum extent practicable, in its discretion—

‘‘(i) to diminish, eliminate, or prevent excessive speculation as described under this section;

‘‘(ii) to deter and prevent market manipulation, squeezes, and corners;

‘‘(iii) to ensure sufficient market liquidity for bona fide hedgers; and

‘‘(iv) to ensure that the price discovery function of the underlying market is not disrupted.

Section 4a(a)(6) of the Commodity Exchange Act

‘‘(6) AGGREGATE POSITION LIMITS.—The Commission shall, by rule or regulation, establish limits (including related hedge exemption provisions) on the aggregate number or amount of positions in contracts based upon the same underlying commodity (as defined by the Commission) that may be held by any person, including any group or class of traders, for each month across—

‘‘(A) contracts listed by designated contract markets;

‘‘(B) with respect to an agreement contract, or transaction that settles against any price (including the daily or final settlement price) of 1 or more contracts listed for trading on a registered entity, contracts traded on a foreign board of trade that provides members or other participants located in the United States with direct access to its electronic trading and order matching system; and

‘‘(C) swap contracts that perform or affect a significant price discovery function with respect to regulated entities.

Section 4a(a)(7) of the Commodity Exchange Act

‘‘(7) EXEMPTIONS.—The Commission, by rule, regulation, or order, may exempt, conditionally or unconditionally, any person or class of persons, any swap or class of swaps, any contract of sale of a commodity for future delivery or class of such contracts, any option or class of options, or any transaction or class of transactions from any requirement it may establish under this section with respect to position limits.’’.

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Other related hedge fund law articles:

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

New Form ADV Part 2 Format Released

SEC Announces New Format for ADV Part 2

Advisors registered with the SEC should have received a notification from the SEC about the new Part 2 format.  We have posted that release below and the communication we received from the SEC.  We have also posted the new release as well as the instructions for the new ADV Part 2.  We will be providing an overview and our thoughts on these changes in the coming days.

Complete Release – New Form ADV Part 2

New Form ADV Part 2 Instructions

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Form ADV Part 2: New Format and Brochure Supplements Required

The SEC recently adopted amendments to Part 2 of Form ADV and related rules that require investment advisers to prepare plain English narrative brochures and brochure supplements. You may view the adopting release and amended form at http://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2010/ia-3060.pdf . The revised form and rules require you to file a narrative brochure(s) electronically in a text searchable PDF format on IARD and to deliver the brochure to clients. You must also prepare, and deliver to clients, brochure supplements for certain employees and maintain them in your files. If your fiscal year ends on December 31, you are required to file a narrative brochure(s) with your annual amendment filing that is due by March 31, 2011. If your fiscal year end is other than December 31, you are required to file a narrative brochure(s) with your annual amendment filing for your 2011 year end. Please review the final release, amended rules, and amended Part 2 of Form ADV for additional information on when and how you are required to comply with these amendments. You cannot reply to this email. If you have questions, please email [email protected]

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Other related hedge fund law articles:

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

SEC Approves ADV Part II Update

New Form to Require More Disclosure

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

The proposed major changes include the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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Other related hedge fund law articles:

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

Obama Signs Historic Wall Street Reform Bill

Requires Hedge Fund and Private Equity Fund Managers to Register with SEC

As expected President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Act”) on Wednesday July 24, 2010.  The Act was designed to address many of the issues that led to the financial crisis of 2008 and is being hailed as the largest financial regulatory bill since the various securities acts of the 1930s.

For most hedge fund and private equity fund managers, the major concern is the requirement that managers register with the SEC by July 24, 2011.  Registration, of course, means that firms are going to be required to appoint a chief compliance office, comply with certain advertising restrictions and implement robust recordkeeping procedures.  Along with the increased compliance and reporting requirements, managers should be aware that firms will also be subject to surprise or routine SEC audits.

Fund managers who run section 3(c)(1) funds should also be aware of the fact that the definition of both qualified client and accredited investor are affected.  The definition of a qualified client will be required to be initially adjusted by the SEC and then will be adjusted every 5 years thereafter.  The definition of an accredited investor now does not include the value of an investor’s primary residence.  This definition will be subject to adjustment every 4 years.

Other interesting changes:

  • Venture Capital Funds – VC funds will not be required to register as investment advisers with the SEC, but the SEC may promulgate rules requiring such managers to keep certain records and make reports to the SEC.
  • Registered CPOs not subject to IA registration – a commodity pool operator which provides advice to a private fund which invests in securities will not also need to be registered as an investment adviser unless the CPO’s business becomes predominantly securities-related.
  • Recordkeeping – although hedge fund and private equity fund managers will be subject to reporting requirements, there is the possibility for enhanced confidentiality measures for some groups.  [This is an issue we will likely hear much more about in the future.]
  • Short sale reporting – managers generally with $100M in AUM will be required to report their short positions to the SEC.
  • SIPC protection for futures – the Act extends SIPC protection for futures and options on futures in portfolio margining accounts.
  • Futures position limits – in the next 6 months the CFTC will be required to impose aggregate position limits on energy products and metals.  In the next 9 months the CFTC will be required to impose aggregate position limits on agricultural commodities.
  • OTC Derivatives – formerly unregulated derivative transactions will now be regulated by the CFTC, SEC or both.  These transactions will generally need to be cleared through central clearinghouses.

Many pundits have noted that most of the “real” change will take place through the agency rule-making process which is expected to commence shortly and last at least 12 months.  Both the SEC and CFTC will be releasing rule proposals for comments and we will be reporting on these as they occur.

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Other related hedge fund law articles:

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

Bay Area Hedge Fund Event | July 28, 2010

YOU’RE INVITED!

The Bay Area Hedge Fund Roundtable presents:

Due Diligence and Fraud – The Reality of Headline Risk

FEATURING:

Scott Adams – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Shaun Dalton – Formerly with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities and Stanford Financial Group

Olivia Robinson – Background Intelligence, Inc.

MODERATED BY JAY GOULD, PILLSBURY WINTHROP SHAW PITTMAN LLP

JULY 28, 2010 SAN FRANCISCO, CA

CHECK IN – 3 PM

PRESENTATION – 3:30 PM

Sens Restaurant @

Four Embarcadero Promenade Level

Admission is $25 – Cash only please, receipts will be provided.

Cocktail Reception to Follow

Please RSVP to [email protected]

The Bay Area Hedge Fund Roundtable (“BAHR”) is an informal (and not for profit) organization of members of the Bay Area hedge fund community that was established in 2001. BAHR strives to provide intelligent, fresh perspectives from industry leaders on current developments and offer an open, casual environment where members can exchange information and expertise and further develop their relationships within the industry.

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Hedge Fund Law Blog is sponsored by Cole-Frieman &  Mallon LLP which provides legal and hedge fund registration services to fund managers.  Bart Mallon, Esq. can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Financial Reform Bill Passes Senate

As has been widely reported, the Senate passed the Financial Reform Bill setting the stage for President Obama to sign the bill within the next week.  With respect to investment advisors, one of the central items is the private equity and hedge fund registration requirement.  We will be reporting further on the bill in the coming days and weeks.

Forex Registration Workshop Announced

NFA to Discuss Forex Registration in Vegas

The NFA announced a workshop to inform forex managers about the various registration and compliance matters that managers will need to be especially aware of during the registration process.  While we do not yet know what the final rules will look like, we do know a few things and believe that managers will need to focus on the following issues:

  • Series 34 exam – this is an exam specifically for forex managers.  In addition to the Series 34, the managers will most likely need to have passed the Series 3 exam as well.
  • Forex Compliance – all NFA registrants will need to make sure they are compliant with all CFTC laws and regulations in addition to NFA rules.
  • Forex Disclosure Documents – all forex CTAs and CPOs will need disclosure documents.  While these disclosure documents will be similar to traditional futures/commodities disclosure documents, there are some specific forex disclosures managers will also need to include in the documents.  As always, managers should remember that the disclosure documents and the managed account agreement are legal documents and should be drafted by an attorney.

The full NFA announcement is reprinted below.

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NFA’s Registration/Compliance Workshops for Currently Unregistered Forex IBs, CPOs and CTAs in Conjunction with the Upcoming Futures and Forex Expo

Caesars Palace in Las Vegas
Saturday, September 25, 2010

In early 2010, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) published its proposed rules regarding the regulation of retail off-exchange foreign currency (forex) products. One component of the proposed rules requires all forex introducing brokers, account managers and pool operators to register with the CFTC as forex IBs, CTAs and CPOs and to become Members of National Futures Association (NFA).

In anticipation of the publication of the CFTC’s final rules, NFA will be offering registration/compliance workshops in conjunction with the upcoming Futures and Forex Expo to be held on September 23-25 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. These workshops will outline the registration process and discuss regulatory requirements for each registration category.

The schedule for the workshops is as follows:

  • 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. Registration workshop for all registration categories. This session will cover who has to register and will present a walkthrough of the registration process.
  • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. General compliance workshop for all registration categories. This session will include discussion of NFA rules regarding promotional material/sales practices, supervisory procedures (including ethics training requirements, supervision of branch offices and disaster recovery/business continuity planning) and anti-money laundering requirements.
  • 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Disclosure documents/financial requirements workshop for CPOs and CTAs, including performance reporting.
  • 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. NFA staff available for one-on-one consultations.

All workshops will be held in the Tribune Room in the Convention Center at Caesar’s Palace.

Although there is no fee to attend the workshops, advanced registration is recommended.

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Other related forex law articles:

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

Hedge Fund Compliance Guide

After the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, managers and service providers will be preparing to go through the registration process. Managers should note that while the registration process is fairly straightforward, the ongoing compliance requirements under the Investment Advisers Act are perhaps more important. In this guide we will be providing an overview and links to the important compliance considerations.

Specifically, we will be discussing the practical application of the following rules to both hedge fund managers and private equity fund managers:

Rule 204-2 — Books and Records to Be Maintained by Investment Advisers
Rule 204-3 — Written Disclosure Statements
Rule 204A-1 — Investment Adviser Codes of Ethics
Rule 205-3 — Exemption from the Compensation Prohibition of Section 205(a)(1) for Investment Advisers
Rule 206(3)-2 — Agency Cross Transactions for Advisory Clients
Rule 206(4)-1 — Advertisements by Investment Advisers
Rule 206(4)-2 — Custody or Possession of Funds or Securities of Clients
Rule 206(4)-3 — Cash Payments for Client Solicitations
Rule 206(4)-4 — Financial and Disciplinary Information that Investment Advisers Must Disclose to Clients
Rule 206(4)-6 — Proxy Voting
Rule 206(4)-7 — Compliance Procedures and Practices

Business Continuity Plans

Rule 206(4)-8 — Pooled Investment Vehicles

This guide will complement the hedge fund registration guide we have developed as well.

Survey of State Securities Divisions

Are States Equipped to Handle Increased IA Registrations?

Under the new financial reform bill, expected to be signed into law sometime in July 2010, the state securities divisions will play a larger role in the oversight of investment managers.  Under the current system, investment advisers (who generally provide financial planning services or investment advice to individuals) with $30 million of AUM are required to register with the SEC.  Under the new laws to take effect under the reform bill, investment advisers with up to $100 million of AUM will be required to register with the state of their principal place of business.  This means that thousands of managers who are currently subject to SEC jurisdiction and oversight will become subject to state jurisdiction and oversight.  We do not believe that the states have the desire, expertise or, most importantly, the budget to handle an increase in the jurisdiction and oversight.  Because we think the states securities divisions are cash strapped, we conducted our own mini-survey to find out the answer.  [Note: we also recommend the article The New Sheriffs in Town about this same issue.]

Survey of State Securities Divisions

Over the past couple of weeks, we called each state securities division and tried to speak with a person familiar with each division’s financial situation and other aspects of their operations.  While we were not always able to speak with the appropriate person, we were at times able to divine interesting information from our discussion.  For many states we have sent in record requests under the Freedom of Information Act and while our reports below are not complete, they do show us that a number of securities divisions are in fact having financial difficulties.  These questions focus on the issues we think are important.  [Please note: most of the answers below are not official but were instead taken from our informal phone conversations with people in the various divisions.]

Question: Is the securities division facing budget cuts?

  • Arizona – yes, there have been budget cuts over the last couple of years.
  • Delaware – no, but statewide salaries have been cut 2.5%
  • Kansas – there is a constrained budget
  • New Mexico – yes
  • Oregon – yes
  • Pennsylvania – budget restraints
  • Utah – yes
  • Vermont – yes, as of 2009
  • Washington – yes
  • Other: A number of divisions either stated no or that they could not provide that information.

Question: has the securities divisions faced staff reductions?

  • Utah – yes
  • Washington – operating under a hiring freeze
  • Other:  A number of states said there were vacant positions (Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, New Mexico (3))

Question: are division staff forced to take furlough days?

  • California – yes, either 1 or 2 Fridays a month
  • Colorado – yes, 1 days per month instituted in Fall of 2009
  • Connecticut – yes, instituted in 2008
  • Delaware – yes, instituted in 2009
  • Hawaii – yes
  • Maine – yes
  • Michigan – yes
  • Minnesota – yes
  • Nevada – yes
  • New Mexico – in 2009 (5 days) but not in 2010
  • Oregon – yes
  • Vermont – yes – instituted in 2009
  • Virginia – yes
  • Washington – yes
  • Wisconsin – yes
[Note: we expect this number to rise as soon as we receive information back from our Freedom of Information Act requests.]

Question: how many staff members does the division employ?

  • Arkansas – 38
  • Delaware – 13 (2 examiners)
  • Indiana – 18-20 (1 examiner)
  • Louisiana – 11 (2 examiners)
  • Montana – 5 (2 examiners)
  • Nebraska – 10 (1 examiner)
  • New Hampshire – 10 (2 examiners)
  • New Mexico – 22 (1 examiner)
  • North Dakota – 9 (3 examiners)
  • Utah – 19 (5 examiners)
  • Washington – 38 (8 examiners)
  • West Virginia – 11 (5 examiners)
  • Wisconsin – 16 (10 examiners)
Question: how often does the division audit registrants?

  • Indiana – 3-4 year cycle
  • Louisiana – 2 year cycle
  • Montana – 3 year cycle
  • Nebraska – every 2-3 years
  • New Hampshire – risk-based cycle
  • New Mexico – 3 year cycle
  • Utah – 5 audits per month (3 routine, 2 for cause; mostly broker-dealer issues)
  • Virginia – 3.5 year cycle
  • Washington – high-risk firms audited 1-2 years; lower risk firms audited every several years
  • Wisconsin – 3 year cycle

We will periodically update this information as we receive it from the divisions.

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Other related hedge fund law articles:

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