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Hedge Funds and Investors: June 2009

Overview of the Hedge Fund Industry in June

It is nice to have a chance to step back from the regulatory side to see the big picture of the hedge fund industry.  The article below discusses what is currently happening in the various hedge fund strategies and what investors are looking for from managers.  The article is written by Bryan Goh (First Avenue Partners) and addresses the issues related to the hedge fund industry in June of 2009.  Reprinted from Byan’s blog called Ten Seconds Into the Future.

Hedge Funds: The State of the Craft: June 2009

By Bryan Goh

The fundamental picture:

The second quarter of 2009 witnessed a continuation of the rally in all risky assets from equities to credit to commodities and energy to illiquid Asian physical real estate. On the back of this reversal of the acute risk aversion that plagued the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, economists began to detect ‘green shoots’ of economic recovery. However, economic growth forecasts in the developed world continue to be depressed. The US for example is expected to show -2.8% growth in 2009 with a weak recovery in 2010 of 1.6%; the Euro zone is expected to shrink by 2.3% in 2009 and grow by an insipid 1.7% in 2010 with dire numbers from Germany (-5.5% 2009, +0.55% 2010), and Italy (-4.4% 2009, +0.4 2010). Emerging markets were widely expected to decouple, but thus far the incipient recovery is only evident in BRIC, with China growing +6.5% in 2009 and +7.3% in 2010, India growing +5.5% in 2009 and +6.4% in 2010, Brazil shrinking 1.5% in 2009 before growing 2.7% in 2010 and Russia shrinking 5% in 2009 and growing 2% in 2010. Outside of the BRIC, emerging markets’ highly export driven economies are severely impacted by the slowdown in the developed world,  the dearth of demand and the unavailability of trade finance.

Developed markets have been hobbled with historically high debt levels, distressed real estate prices, rising unemployment, weakening retail sales, shrinking industrial production and declining consumer and business confidence. Coupled with impaired sovereign balance sheets, the result of financial rescue packages, Keynesian fiscal reflationary policies, an ageing population’s impact on state pensions and healthcare, the outlook for developed market growth is not optimistic. The one area of potential respite is the external sector, which as a matter of mathematics has to and will adjust to reduce the scale of current account imbalances.

Emerging markets have somewhat healthier financial systems, sovereign balance sheets and private savings levels and are thus in a better position to implement fiscal reflationary policies and centrally influenced if not planned extension and allocation of credit. This, however, remains concentrated in the larger emerging markets such as BRIC where domestic diversification reduces the dependence on the external sector.

The expansion of the government in the economy is therefore more feasible in the BRIC. It has been moderately successful. China is a case in point where fixed capital formation in the form of infrastructure build has more than made up for the gap from a collapse of external trade and a moribund consumer sector.

These efforts provide a stay of execution. Time, however, is a healer, under the assumption of free markets. Protectionism and outright central planning has historically proven counter productive. It is interesting to note that while developed markets flirt with market interventionist policies, bend Chapter 11, and increasingly embrace quantitative easing, further emergency interest rate policy, flirting with protectionism, interfering with the banking system; emerging markets have by and large embraced free markets.

While policy makers continue to hold interest rates at low levels, the inflation deflation debate continues. Central banks with formal inflation targets may be more likely to tighten prematurely than central banks with a softer target or a more holistic mandate. Given the rate at which capacity utilization has fallen and the current levels at which it rests, it is unlikely that inflation will take hold. On the other hand, given the reflationary capacity of BRIC and competition for natural resources, deflation is unlikely to take hold either. Central banks are likely to be afforded the latitude to hold short rates lower for longer in their anti-recessionary campaigns. Long bond yields are likely to display news driven and data driven volatility as signs of inflation wax and wane.

Hedge Fund Performance:

Performance to May 2009:


Hedge Fund Outlook:

Generally, the outlook for hedge fund strategies is very positive. There are a number of reasons for this. The period 2005 to 2007 saw a surge in equity capital employed in hedge fund strategies. With increasing volumes of arbitrage capital, return on gross capital employed compressed, as one would naturally expect. Hedge funds adaptively increased their leverage in order to maintain return on equity, a strategy feasible because interest rates were low and credit spreads were tight and thus leverage was cheap. The bankruptcy of Bear Stearns and then Lehman Brothers in 2008, triggered a massive deleveraging of the entire arbitrage industry from hedge funds to bank proprietary trading desks. Mark to market losses triggered large scale redemptions from hedge funds which left what in 2007 was a 2 trillion USD industry with an estimated paltry 1.2 trillion USD of assets under management. This together with the wholesale withdrawal of leverage from an average of 3.5 to 4 X to 1.5 to 2X, implies a 70% to 75% shrinkage in capital employed in arbitrage. The indiscriminate withdrawal of risk has created ubiquitous arbitrage and relative value opportunities.

Equities: Market sentiment went from monotonic risk aversion from the second half of 2009 into the first quarter of 2009. During this time, equity dispersion was explained not by earnings prospects but by news flow and macro implications on balance sheet integrity. And a great deal of simple panic. The very sharp rebound from mid March 2009 has similarly been driven not by earnings fundamentals but by a reversal of risk aversion and other dynamic factors. As market volatility settles, equity dispersion is expected to be increasingly driven by fundamentals once again. The opportunity set for equity long short managers is improved.

Event driven: In every distressed cycle, private equity buyouts dwindle and deal break risk is escalated due to buyers remorse. When coupled with a credit crisis, jurisdictions where committed financing is not a prerequisite to an approach and banks themselves in jeopardy also increase deal risk. Following this initial round of panic and disorder, the following period of calm usually witnesses deal flow on the basis of strategic alliance, self preservation, consolidation, asset disposals, and capital raising. This is the landscape facing the event driven merger arbitrageur today. The dearth of arbitrage capital has also resulted in slower convergence, more volatility of spread and a profitable environment for the strategy.

Macro and Fixed Income: Macro strategies did relatively well in 2008 as large and trivial trades presented themselves with the ebb and flow of capital driven by acute risk aversion and government reactionary policy. These trades have now receded into history. Going forward macro is likely to continue to perform well on the back of persistent volatility in fixed income markets driven by the cycles of central bank policy and investor prevarication between inflation and deflation. These same themes create interesting arbitrage opportunities in fixed income arbitrage as well as short rates react to policy and long rates to inflation expectations and sovereign credit risk. The reduction of capital in fixed income arbitrage also presents interesting arbitrage opportunities between cash, synthetic, futures, forwards, swap and repo markets.

Asset based investing / lending / Trade Finance: The global credit crisis and associated global economic recession has resulted in a dearth of credit. Providers of credit are therefore well rewarded. In trade finance, for example, a sharp fall in world trade of over a third in the final quarter of 2008 was only surpassed by the contraction of available trade finance. Banking consolidations also constrain credit further as obligor limits are exceeded in merged financial institutions. The result is wider spreads and tighter collateral terms. Hedge funds involved in lending are able to use non-traditional deal structures to secure their collateral while exacting competitive spreads.

Credit: A situation in credit markets exists akin to the one in equities. Systemic risk was high in 2008 and credit was systematically sold despite differentiated idiosyncratic issuer risk. The credit space is richer than equities, however, due to the richness of the capital structure, particularly in more mature developed markets like the US, representing excellent raw material for which to express capital structure dislocation trades. Differing natural investors or traders at different parts of the capital structure create arbitrage opportunities which barring unilateral regulatory or government intervention, represent true arbitrage.

Convertible arbitrage: Convertible arbitrage was one of the worst performing strategies in 2008 and one of the best performing strategies in 2009 to June. The losses came from a confluence of general risk aversion, deleveraging by banks and institutions, hedge fund redemptions and failures from over-levered portfolios, and a collapse in the funding mechanism of which the prime brokers were integral. With a normalization of market conditions convertible bond markets have recovered sharply. The crucial question is, to what extent is the current recovery in convert arbitrage funds purely a directional one, profiting from the rising tide lifting all boats. Convertible arbitrage, however, is a catch all for a suite of sub strategies of varying sophistication, direction and use. The current market is replete with less-directional opportunities. These arise from the diversity of pricing and valuation across the convertible space, as well as a revival in primary issuance. The credit elements of convertible arbitrage were highlighted in 2008 and will continue to be a key consideration in assessing convertible bonds. Directional expressions of fundamental views on companies can be very efficiently captured using convertibles as well. A fundamental view on a company need not be restricted to first order (levels) pricing but can extend to views about the pricing of the volatility of the company. Capital structure trades can also be expressed with convertibles for example in theoretical replications with bounded jump to default values for a range of recoveries.

Distressed Credit: When the credit crisis first broke in mid 2007 in the US sub prime real estate mortgage market, investors had already begun to seek opportunities in distressed debt. The distress has been concentrated mostly to the real estate backed securities market and latterly to consumer loan backed securities. Among corporate rated issuers default rates remained low. High yield default rates while accelerating sharply in 2008 had only reached 5.42% by 1Q 2009 according to S&P. S&P expects the default rate to climb to a peak of 14.3% in 2010. Distressed debt managers returns tend lag default rates and accelerate when default rates have peaked. A three to four year period of outperformance is usually measured from the peak of the distressed cycle. This is consistent with the bankruptcy processes of the developed markets such as Chapter 11 in the US. The risk remains that the economic recovery will be an insipid one and or that the economy may sink back into recession before it finds a stable trend path. Distressed debt managers also tend to be weakly correlated at the peak of the default cycle and maintain low correlation for about 3 years after which correlation creeps into their returns.

The events of 2008 have resulted in a peculiar situation where almost every hedge fund strategy is likely to perform well going forward. This is not to say that there is little or no risk. The choice before the investor remains the magnitude and the type of risk they are happy to assume. In liquid strategies such as equity long short, the risk is non-convergence, for there is often no functional relationship to bring relative value trades in line. For strong convergence, such as capital structure arbitrage strategies, convergence is less uncertain, at maturity or in default. However, under going concern assumptions, spreads can be volatile and can widen significantly and sometimes unpredictably. There is a trade off between market risk and liquidity risk.

At various times, the opportunity has shifted from asset class to asset class, from strategy to strategy, requiring a careful portfolio construction to capture the appropriate risk reward characteristics of each strategy, while achieving efficient portfolio diversification. Under current conditions, when risk reward properties of almost every strategy are favourable, the portfolio construction problem is significantly simplified.

Investor Risk Appetite:

In the first half of 2008 investors were content to be worried about their hedge fund allocations while remaining invested. Recall that for the year up till June 2008, hedge funds had turned in a moderately poor (-2.43%) performance. It was only when the losses accumulated and large regulated insurance companies and banks either went bankrupt or threatened to do so, did hedge fund investors decide to redeem in any size. The Madoff fraud further destroyed the trust between investors and their fund managers leading to the demonizing of the entire hedge fund industry not only within the industry but in the general medial as well. Redemptions crescendoed in March 2009 while hedge fund managers, some with liquidity mismatches or funding issues, began to restrict or suspend redemptions in an attempt to avoid disposing of assets at firesale prices.

Hedge fund investors’ reaction, quite understandable began with complacency in early 2008, to fear and panic in 3Q 2008 to despondency in 4Q 2008 and 1Q 2009. The rebound in markets and hedge fund performance took most investors by surprise.

As recently as April / May 2009, investors’ risk aversion remained acutely high. From early June 2009 this has changed somewhat as investors have begun to scout for opportunities in the hedge fund space. A number of things have changed since 2008. For one, investors will no longer tolerate liquidity mismatches, and while the immediate reaction has been to demand liquidity and favour liquid funds, a more discerning investor base is now analysing portfolio and strategy liquidity and requiring fund terms to better reflect the underlying liquidity.

The area of hedge fund fees has also come under scrutiny. While a number of funds have discounted their fees, it is unclear if there is any price elasticity. Price elasticity appears to be a weak factor compared with other factors such as manager quality, rational liquidity terms, transparency and operational integrity. In the area of fees, more sophisticated fees seem to be emerging which seek to better align investor and fund manager interests over a rolling investment horizon instead of the current annual fee crystallization which creates cyclicality in manager behaviour.

Transparency has become the most important issue for investors. Without transparency, due diligence and ongoing monitoring is blunted, style drift and frauds go undetected. Transparency goes beyond, and sometimes around, position level disclosure. More constructive forms of transparency include risk aggregation reports, sometimes sent by the fund administrator, periodic calls with the portfolio manager, periodic portfolio detail. The periodic preference for managed accounts has once again re-emerged. Quite whether it is sustained remains to be seen, but managed accounts while useful in some respects is no panacea.

As hedge funds react to investor needs, a stronger industry will arise, albeit initially a smaller one. It is hard to see growth rates regain their heights in 2007. However, given the relative outperformance of hedge funds versus long only equity, credit fixed income, commodities and real estate both in 2008 and over a 10 year period it is easy to underestimate the growth of the industry.


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

California Investment Advisor FAQ

California Based Hedge Fund Managers Receive Answers to Common Questions

As I have discussed many times before, each state securities division has different rules and regulations.  In addition, each state has different interpretations of those rules and regulations. This makes it difficult for hedge fund managers to really know exactly what is required in each state unless they have representation from a specialized compliance group or hedge fund attorney.  Many securities regulators, also, do not completely understand their own rule and regulations and are not able to provide any sort of practicle advice to hedge fund managers regarding their obligations.  While not surprising, this lack of ability to provide general straight-forward answers to managers is what creates the need for specialized advice.  Some states however are recognizing that there are common questions which arise and that it makes sense to provide answers to those common questions and the FAQ below, provided by the California State Securities Regulation Division is a step in the right direction towards increasing the dialogue between regulators and market participants.

The following summary is also very helpful for manager because it discusses some of the nuances of California law as it relates to investment advisors who are also hedge fund managers.  Specifically the FAQ below deals with the issue of “custody,” the net worth requirements and the 120% net worth.  Also discussed is the “gatekeeper” issue (also known as the independant secondary signer service).

The entire text of the FAQ is reprinted below.  Please see below for additional hedge fund articles and please also see our guide to state hedge fund laws.


1) What responsibilities do I have as an investment adviser?

As an investment adviser, you are a “fiduciary” to your advisory clients. This means that you have a fundamental obligation to act in the best interests of your clients and to provide investment advice in your clients’ best interests. You owe your clients a duty of undivided loyalty and utmost good faith. You should not engage in any activity in conflict with the interest of any client, and you should take steps reasonably necessary to fulfill your obligations. You must employ reasonable care to avoid misleading clients and you must provide full and fair disclosure of all material facts to your clients and prospective clients.

So, what is considered material? Generally, facts are “material” if a reasonable investor would consider them to be important. It is something a client would want to consider in determining whether to hire the adviser or follow the adviser’s recommendations. You must eliminate, or at least disclose, all conflicts of interest that might incline you to render advice that is not in the best interest of the client. If you do not avoid a conflict of interest that could impact the impartiality of your advice, you must make full and frank disclosure of the conflict. You cannot use your clients’ assets for your own benefit or the benefit of other clients. Departure from this fiduciary standard may constitute “fraud” upon your clients.

2) How are “assets under management” determined?

In determining the amount of your assets under management, include the securities portfolios for which you provide continuous and regular supervisory or management services as of the date of filing Form ADV. You provide continuous and regular supervisory or management services with respect to an account if:

(1)  You have discretionary authority over and provide ongoing supervisory or management services  with respect to the account; or

(2)  You do not have discretionary authority over the account, but you have an ongoing  responsibility to select or make recommendations, based upon the needs of the client, as to  specific securities or other investments the account may purchase or sell and, if such  recommendations are accepted by the client, you are responsible for arranging or effecting the  purchase or sale.

Other factors: You should also consider the following factors in evaluating whether you provide  continuous and regular supervisory or management services to an account:

(a)Terms of the advisory contract.
If you agree in an advisory contract to provide ongoing management services, this suggests that  you provide these services for the account. Other provisions in the contract, or your actual  management practices, however, may suggest otherwise.

(b)Form of compensation.
If you are compensated based on the average value of the client’s assets you manage over a  specified period of time, this suggests that you provide continuous and regular supervisory or  management services for the account.
If you receive compensation in a manner similar to either of the following, this suggests you do  not provide continuous and regular supervisory or management services for the account:

(a) You are compensated based upon the time spent with a client during a client visit; or
(b) You are paid a retainer based on a percentage of assets covered by a financial plan.

(3)Management practices.

The extent to which you actively manage assets or provide advice bears on whether the services  you provide are continuous and regular supervisory or management services. The fact that you  make infrequent trades (e.g., based on a “buy and hold” strategy) does not mean your services  are not “continuous and regular.”

3) Our firm is registered with the SEC or another state. Must we also register with the Department of Corporations?

SEC registered advisers with more than five clients who are residents of California must make a notice filing with the Department.

Other states registered investment advisers with a place of business in this state or more than five clients who are residents of California must also registered with the Department.

4) How does a firm convert from being a state-registered to an SEC-registered investment adviser or vice versa?

From State to SEC: To convert from being a state-registered adviser to being an SEC-registered adviser on the IARD system, mark the filing type “Apply for registration as an investment adviser with the SEC.” After the SEC approves your registration you should file a “Partial ADV-W” to withdraw your state registration(s). Do not file your Partial ADV-W until your application for SEC registration is approved or you will be unregistered and may be unable to conduct your business during this period of time.

From SEC to State: To convert from being a SEC-registered adviser to being a state-registered adviser, mark the filing type “Apply for registration as an investment adviser with one or more states.” After your state registration has been approved, then you should file a “Partial ADV-W” to withdraw your SEC registration. Do not file your Partial ADV-W until your state registration application(s) is approved by the Department or you will be unregistered and cannot conduct your business during this period of time.

5) What is an “investment adviser representative?”

An investment adviser representative (“IAR”), sometimes referred to as a registered adviser (“RA”), or associated person is defined in Code Section 25009.5(a) as any partner, officer, director of (or a person occupying a similar status or performing similar functions) or other individual, except clerical or ministerial personnel, who is employed by or associated with, or subject to the supervision and control of, an investment adviser that has obtained a certificate or that is required to obtain a certificate under this law, and who:

(1) Makes any recommendations or otherwise renders advice regarding securities,
(2) Manages accounts or portfolios of clients,
(3) Determines which recommendations or advice regarding securities should be given,
(4) Solicits, offers, or negotiates for the sale or sells investment advisory services, or
(5) Supervises employees who perform any of the foregoing.

Important: Each officer, director or partner exercising executive responsibility (or persons occupying a similar status or performing similar functions) or each person who owns 25% or more is presumed to be acting as an IAR or associated person.

6) I have an investment adviser representative who performs advisory services on behalf of my firm and is under my supervision. Does the investment adviser representative need to be registered with the Department?

Yes, investment adviser representatives must be registered with the Department if they have a place of business in California.

Important: This applies to both state (California and other states) and SEC registered investment advisers. Investment adviser representatives located in California or who have clients who are residents of California (whether they work for SEC, other states, or California’s registered investment adviser firms), must be registered with the Department.

7) How does my firm register individuals and what are the employment requirements?

Firms register individuals by completing Form U-4 through the electronic Central Registration Depository (“CRD”). Upon employment of an individual as an IAR, the investment adviser must obtain a properly executed Form U-4, evidence that the IAR meets the qualification requirements of CCR §260.236, and have the responsibility and duty to ascertain by reasonable investigation the good character, business reputation, qualifications, and experience of an individual upon employment or engagement as an IAR.

8) What are the qualification requirements for investment adviser representatives?

Each IAR, except those employed or engaged by an investment adviser solely to offer or negotiate for the sale of investment adviser services, must qualify by passing the examination(s) as specified in CCR §260.236(a). The examination requirements are the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination (“2000 Series 65”) passed on or after January 1, 2000; or the General Securities Representative Examination (“Series 7”) and Uniform Combined State Law Examination (“2000 Series 66”). Waivers and exemptions to the examination requirements may be found in subsection (b) and (c) of CCR §260.236, respectively. Individuals who hold in good standing an approved professional designation meet the exemption found in (c)(3) of CCR §260.236.

When a U-4 is filed to register someone as an IAR, the CRD will automatically open a Series 65 exam window if the individual is not shown as already having passed the exam, is not already licensed by another jurisdiction, or does not qualify for an automatic exam waiver.

9) What are the filing requirements for a firm who has an investment adviser representative?

(1) Employment –

Upon employment of an IAR, Form U-4, including any Disclosure Reporting  Page(s), should  be completed in accordance with the form instructions. The form is to be filed  with, and the  reporting fee paid to, CRD in accordance with its procedures. The filing of Form U- 4 with  CRD does not constitute an automatic approval of the filing by the Commissioner. The  investment adviser should not consider an IAR “registration” approved until approved by the  Commissioner and notification of the approval has been received through CRD.

(2) Changes – Within 30 days of any changes to Form U-4, an amendment to Form U-4 is to be  filed. The amendment is to be filed directly with CRD in accordance with its procedures.

(3)Termination – Within 30 days of termination of an IAR, Form U-5 is to be filed in accordance  with the form instructions. Form U-5 is to clearly state the reason(s) for termination. This form is  to be filed directly with CRD in accordance with its procedures.

10) What are the fees associated with registering an investment adviser representative?

The registration fee for each IAR is $25. This fee is paid to the Department through the IARD system. There is no annual renewal fee for an IAR.

There is also an annual filing fee of $30 for 2008 (subject to change for future years) that is paid to FINRA for the processing of forms for each IAR. FINRA charges this fee and the Department does not receive any portion of this.

11) Are owners and executive officers considered investment adviser representatives (IAR)? If so, how should I report owners and executive officers of my advisory firm to the Department?

All direct owners and executive officers should be reported on Schedule A of Form ADV and indirect owners should be reported on Schedule B of Form ADV.

Since officers, directors or partners who exercise executive responsibilities (or persons who occupy similar status or perform similar functions), or persons who own 25% or more are presumed to be IARs, a Form U-4 and a $25 reporting fee should be filed for each such individual through the Central Registration Depository (“CRD”).

A paper filing of Form U-4 should be filed directly with the Department for all other officers, directors or partners, or persons who own 10% or more who are not reported as IARs through the CRD.

12) I solicit clients for an investment adviser and receive referral fees for business I send to an investment adviser. Must I register?

Solicitors must be registered either as an investment adviser representative under a registered investment advisory firm or obtain their own independent registered investment adviser certificate.

13) I solely refer clients to registered investment advisers, what qualification requirements are there for solicitors?

Individuals who are reported as an IAR under an investment adviser solely to offer or negotiate for the sale of investment adviser services are exempted from the qualification requirements. However, solicitors seeking their independent registered investment advisory license must be qualified.

14) I’m a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and refer my clients to third-party investment advisers for referral fees, what qualifications and requirements must I follow?

A special case arises when a CPA acts as referring agent. Like a solicitor, the CPA must be registered either as an investment adviser representative under a registered investment advisory firm or obtain their own independent registered investment adviser certificate. The difference is that the CPA must be qualified by passing the examinations, unless waived or exempted, even if the CPA is to be reported as an investment adviser representative under a registered investment advisory firm. This is because, according to the California Business and Profession Code and the Board of Accountancy, in order for a CPA to receive compensation from a referral, the CPA must provide a professional service related to the product or services that will be provided to the client by the third-party service provider. In addition, the CPA must maintain independence and provide full disclosure of its referral arrangement to the clients.

Please refer to California Business and Profession Code, Section 5061 and California Board of Accountancy, Article 9, Section 56 for more information.

15) Must I have a written contract with my clients? If yes, what information should my advisory contracts contain?

Yes. Advisers providing services pursuant to advisory contracts that are written are considered to promote fair, equitable, and ethical principles. Advisory contracts with clients must be in writing and, at a minimum, must disclose:

(1) The services to be provided;
(2) The term of the contract;
(3) The advisory fee or the formula for computing the fee amount or the manner of calculation  of the amount of the prepaid fee to be returned in the event of contract termination or  nonperformance;
(4) Whether the contract grants discretionary power to the adviser or its representatives; and
(5) That the contract will not be assigned without the consent of the client.

Please refer to CCC Section 25234 and CCR Section 260.238 for more information.

Important: The Form ADV may not specifically request certain information, however; it is the adviser’s fiduciary duty to disclose all material information in order not to mislead clients, so that the client can make informed decisions about entering into or continuing the advisory relationship.

During the Department examination, examiner will view perceived conflicts from the point of view of the customer: Was the disclosure or lack of disclosure a factor in the client’s decision to use an adviser’s services or ratify an adviser’s recommendations? Was the customer misled? Was the customer placed at a disadvantage or taken unfair advantage of as a result of the conflict and the adviser’s lack of disclosure? The burden of proof lies with the adviser.

16) I provide financial planning services to my clients. What disclosure information must I provide in my advisory contracts for my clients?

Financial planners should provide proper disclosures relating to any inherent conflict of interest that may result from any compensation arrangements connected with the financial planning services that are in addition to the financial planning fees and other financial industry activities or affiliations.

Advisers who provide financial planning services and receive compensation (e.g. commissions, fees) from the sale of securities, insurance, real estate or other product or services recommended in the financial plan, or otherwise has a conflict of interest, must deliver to the financial planning clients a notice in writing containing at least the information found below (in addition to the disclosure items in Question 15 at the time of entering into a contract for, or otherwise arranging for the provision of, the delivery of a financial plan:

(1) A conflict exists between the interests of the investment adviser or associated person and  the interests of the client, and
(2) The client is under no obligation to act on the investment adviser’s or associated person’s  recommendation. Moreover, if the client elects to act on any of the recommendations, the  client is under no obligation to effect the transaction through the investment adviser or the  associated person when such person is employed as an agent with a licensed broker-dealer or is  licensed as a broker-dealer or through any associate or affiliate of such person.

This statement may be included in the advisory contract or Schedule F of Form ADV, which for the latter, the client must acknowledge receipt of the disclosure.

Please refer to CCR Section 260.235.2 for more information.

17) When am I required to update my Form ADV?

Form ADV should always contain current and accurate information. Please note that Part 1A and Part 2 contain some similar questions and must be answered consistently. Therefore, both parts must be updated. In addition to your annual updating amendment, you must amend your Form ADV by filing additional amendments, referred to as “other-than-annual amendments,” during the year. If there are material changes to the Form ADV, an “other-than-annual amendment” should be filed within 30 days of the change.

Important: Advisers are recommended to utilize the tables found at the end of this packet to determine if a change to certain items in Form ADV requires prompt amendments. Because questions asked in Part 1 and 2 are similar, a table is also provided that references these questions. Advisers should make sure that the answers to cross-referenced items are answered the same.

Important: Any amendments to Parts 1 and 2 of Form ADV should be electronically filed through the IARD system.

REMEMBER: You must also amend your Form ADV each year by filing an “annual updating amendment” within 90 days after the end of your fiscal year. When you submit your annual updating amendment, you must update your responses to all items in Parts 1 and 2 of Form ADV.

18) Can Part 2 of Form ADV be filed electronically through the IARD system?

Yes, Form ADV Part 2 along with Schedule F must be filed through the IARD system. However, unlike Form ADV Part 1, Part 2 must be completed offline and uploaded to the IARD system. The form must be submitted in a text searchable pdf format in order to be accepted by the IARD system.

IARD system instructions for filing Part 2 of Form ADV can be found on the IARD web site at http://www.iard.com/part2instructions.asp .

An editable PDF version of Form ADV Part 2 with Schedule F can be obtained from the following website:


19) Do I need to file an annual updating amendment for Part 2 of Form ADV when there are no changes with the information provided?

Yes, an annual updating amendment of Form ADV Parts 1 and 2 through the IARD system is required regardless of any changes in the business or with the information provided. When filing an annual updating amendment, the IARD system allows advisers to utilize the “Confirm” brochure option to confirm that brochures on file are still current, without having to upload a new version of the PDF file.

Specific instructions for filing Part 2 of Form ADV can be obtained from the IARD website at: http://www.iard.com/pdf/ADV_Part_II_Firm_User_90.pdf .

20) Should I file a new application with the Department if I change my sole proprietorship to a corporation?

No, if there is no practical change in control or management only an amendment to the application is necessary. Successors may file an amendment only if the succession results from a change: 1) in form of organization; 2) in legal status; or 3) in the composition of a partnership.

Change in Form of Organization:

This in an internal reorganization or restructuring. For example, a corporation has two affiliated entities, A and B. A is registered as an IA and provides advisory services. B does bookkeeping and does not perform advisory functions. Now, the corporation decides that B should now be performing advisory services and A should provide bookkeeping. In this situation, B may file an amendment of its predecessor’s application because there is no change in control, since the corporation hasn’t change and the beneficial owners remain the same.

Change in Legal Status:

This is a result of a change in the state of incorporation or a change in the form of the business. For example, a sole proprietorship converts it business to a corporation. This also does not involve a change of control.

Change in Composition of a Partnership:

This involves the death, withdrawal, or addition of a partner in the partnership and is not considered a change in control of the partnership.

To file the Amendment: Successors should check “Yes” to Part 1A, Item 4A; enter the date of succession in Part 1A, Item 4B; and complete Schedule D, Section 4 about the acquired firm information. The successor will keep the same CRD number and the predecessor should NOT file Form ADV-W.

21) Should I file a new application if I am an unregistered person acquiring an existing registered investment adviser?

Yes, successors must file a new application for registration when the succession involves a change in control or management. The following types of successions require the filing of a new application:


Acquiring a preexisting investment adviser business by an unregistered person involving a change of control or management.


When two or more registered investment advisers combine their businesses and decide to conduct their new business through a new unregistered entity.

Division of Dual Registrants:

An entity registered as both an IA and BD that decides to separate one of its functions to an unregistered entity.

These types of successions must be filed by a new application for registration. Setting up an IARD account is the first step in the registration process. Once an adviser establishes an IARD account, the adviser can access Form ADV on IARD and submit it electronically through IARD to the Department. On Form ADV, the successor should check “Yes” to Part 1A, Item 4A; enter the date of the succession in Part 1A, Item 4B; and complete Schedule D, Section 4 about the acquired firm information. A new CRD number will be issued upon approval. Once approved, the predecessor files Form ADV-W to withdraw its license from the Department.

22) What are my minimum financial requirements?

Investment advisers who:

(1) Have custody of client funds or securities must maintain at all times a minimum net worth of  $35,000.
(2) Have discretionary authority over client funds or securities but do not have custody of client  funds or securities must maintain at all times a minimum net worth of $10,000.
(3) Accept prepayment of fees more than $500 per month and six or more months in advance  must maintain at all times a positive net worth.

23) If I am an investment adviser and also a broker-dealer, do I need to meet the minimum net worth requirements for investment advisers?

No, the minimum financial requirements do not apply if the investment adviser is also licensed as a broker-dealer under Code Section 25210, or is registered with the SEC.

24) How is financial net worth determined?

“Net worth” should be calculated as the excess of assets over liabilities, as determined by generally accepted accounting principles. The following items should not be included in the calculation of assets: prepaid expenses (except as to items properly classified as current assets under generally accepted accounting principles), deferred charges, goodwill, franchise rights, organizational expenses, patents, copyrights, marketing rights, unamortized debt discount and expense, and all other assets of intangible nature; home, home furnishings, automobiles, and any other personal items not readily marketable in the case of an individual; advances or loans to stockholders and officers in the case of a corporation, and advances or loans to partners in the case of a partnership.

The Department has created a Minimum Financial Requirement Worksheet which advisers may utilize when computing their net worth, which can be obtained from the Department’s website at: http://www.corp.ca.gov/forms/pdf/2602372.pdf .

25) What happens if I do not meet the net worth requirement?

As a condition of the right to continue to transact business in this state, advisers must notify the Department of any net worth deficiency by the close of the next business day following the discovery that the net worth is less than the minimum required.
After transmitting such notice, advisers must file by the close of the next business day a report of financial condition, including the following:

(1)A trial balance of all ledger accounts;
(2) A statement of all client funds or securities which are not segregated;
(3) A computation of the aggregate amount of client ledger debit balance; and
(4) A statement as to the number of client accounts.

26) When computing my financial net worth on the Minimum Financial Requirement Worksheet provided by the Department, I notice that there is a “120% Test”. What is this 120% of minimum net worth requirement test?

An adviser who is subject to the minimum financial requirement must file interim financial reports with the Department within 15 days after its net worth is reduced to less than 120% of its net worth requirement. The first interim report shall be filed within 15 days after its net worth is reduced to less than 120% of its required minimum net worth, and should be as of a date within the 15-day period. Additional reports should be filed within 15 days after each subsequent monthly accounting period until three successive months’ reports have been filed that show a net worth of more than 120% of the firm’s required minimum net worth.

The submitted interim financial reports should contain:

(1) A Statement of Financial Condition (Balance Sheet);
(2) Minimum Financial Requirement Worksheet; and
(3) A verification form.

27) Do I need to file financial reports to the Department?

An adviser who is subject to the minimum financial requirements must file annual financial reports with the Department within 90 days after its fiscal year-end. The submitted annual financial reports should contain:

(1) A Statement of Financial Condition (Balance Sheet & Income Statement) that must be  prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles;

(2) Supporting schedule containing the computations of the minimum financial requirement.  The Department has supplied a Minimum Financial Requirement Worksheet which advisers may  utilize, and which may be obtained from the Department’s website:
http://www.corp.ca.gov/forms/pdf/2602372.pdf ; and
(3) A verification form must accompany the financial statements. The verification form must: (a)  affirmatively state, to the best knowledge and belief of the person making the verification, that  the financial statements and supporting schedules are true and correct; and (b) be signed under  penalty of perjury. The verification form can be obtained from the Department’s website at:

Important: Advisers who have custody of client funds or securities must file audited financial statements prepared by an independent certified public accountant along with the supporting schedule of the net worth computation and the verification form. Please refer to Question # 30 for other requirements pertaining to investment advisers with custody of client funds or securities.

28) I obtain the client’s permission before executing trades, but the brokerage firm will accept my instructions when trading on client accounts. Would I be considered to have discretionary authority?

An investment adviser will not be deemed to have discretionary authority over client accounts when it places trade orders with a broker-dealer pursuant to a third party trading agreement if all the following are met:

(1) The investment adviser has executed a separate investment adviser contract exclusively with  its client which acknowledges that the investment adviser must secure client permission prior to  effecting securities transactions for the client in the client’s brokerage account(s), and
(2) The investment adviser in fact does not exercise discretion with respect to the account,  maintains a log (date and time) or other documents each time client permission is obtained for  transaction, and
(3) A third party trading agreement is executed between the client and a broker-dealer which  specifically limits the investment adviser’s authority in the client’s broker-dealer account to the  placement of trade orders and deduction of investment adviser fees.

29) How is custody of client funds or securities determined?

A person will be deemed to have custody if said person directly or indirectly holds client funds or securities, has any authority to obtain possession of them, or has the ability to appropriate them. Also see Questions 30 through 33, below, for additional information on making custody determinations.

30) What are the requirements for advisers who have custody of client funds and/or securities?

Advisers deemed to have custody of client funds and securities are subject to the following custodial requirements:
(1) $35,000 minimum net worth requirement of CCR Rule 260.237.2,
(2) Surprise verification requirement of CCR Rule 260.237(e), and
(3) Audited financial statements requirement of CCR Rule 260.241.2.

31) I deduct advisory fees directly from the clients’ custodial accounts. Do I have custody of client funds and securities? If yes, are there any procedures I may follow to be exempted from the financial requirements and surprise verification?

Yes and Yes. The Department takes the position that any arrangement under which the adviser is authorized or permitted to withdraw client funds or securities maintained with a custodian upon the adviser’s instruction to the custodian is deemed to have custody of client funds and securities.

Safeguarding Procedures: The Department allows advisers who have this type of payment arrangement to be exempted from the requirements of: (1) $35,000 minimum net worth; (2) audited financial statements; and (3) surprise verification if all of the following procedures are administered:

(1) The client must provide written authorization permitting direct payment from an account  maintained by a custodian who is independent of the adviser;
(2) The adviser must send a statement to the client showing the amount of the fee, the value of  the client’s assets upon which the fee was based, and the specific manner in which the fee was  calculated;
(3) The Adviser must disclose to clients that it is the client’s responsibility to verify the accuracy  of the fee calculation, and that the custodian will not determine whether the fee is properly  calculated; and
(4) The custodian must agree to send the client a statement, at least quarterly, showing all  disbursements from the account, including advisory fees.

Form ADV Disclosure: Advisers who follow the safeguarding procedures for direct fee deduction should respond accordingly on the following sections of their Form ADV:

  • Form ADV: Part 1A, Item 9 (A) – Yes
  • Part 1A, Item 9 (B) – Yes
  • Part 1B, Item 2 I (1) – Yes
  • Part 1B, Item 2 I (1) (a) – Yes
  • Part 1B, Item 2 I (1) (b) Yes
  • Part 1B, Item 2 I (1) (c) – Yes
  • Part 2, Item 14 – No

Important: This exemption does not relieve the advisers from the net worth requirements, which may be lowered to $10,000, or the filing of unaudited financial statements.

32) I manage a limited partnership (LP) and am the general partner of the LP. Am I considered to have custody? If yes, are there any procedures I may follow to receive an exemption from the financial requirements and surprise verification?

Yes and Yes. The Department takes the position that an adviser with any capacity (such as a general partner of a limited partnership, managing member of a limited liability company or a comparable position for another type of pooled investment vehicle) that gives the adviser legal ownership of or access to client funds or securities is deemed to have custody of client funds and securities.

Safeguarding Procedures: An investment adviser acting as a general partner of a limited partnership (or a comparable position for another type of pooled investment vehicle) may receive partnership funds or securities directly from the partnership’s account held by an independent custodian without complying with the surprise audit requirement of CCR Rule 260.237(e), audited financial statements requirement of CCR Rule 260.241.2, and higher net worth requirement of CCR Rule 260.237.2 if all the partnership assets are administered as follows:

(1) One or more independent banks or brokerage firms must hold the partnership’s funds and  securities in the name of the partnership.
(2) Funds received by the partnership for subscriptions must be deposited by the subscriber  directly with the custodian.
(3) The partnership must engage an independent party to approve all fees, expenses, and capital  withdrawals from the pooled accounts.
(4) Each time the general partner makes a payment or withdrawal request, it must  simultaneously send to the independent party and the custodian a statement showing: (a) the  amount of the payment or withdrawal; (b) the value of the partnership’s assets on which the fee  or withdrawal is based; (c) the manner in which the payment or withdrawal is calculated; and (d)  the amount in the general partner’s capital account before and after the withdrawal.
(5) The general partner must also give the independent party sufficient information to allow the  representative to determine that the payments comply with the partnership agreement. The  custodian may transfer funds from the partnership account to the general partner only with the  written authorization of the independent party, and only if the custodian receives a copy of the  written request from the general partner.
(6) The custodian must provide quarterly statements to the partnership and the independent  party.

Form ADV Disclosure: Advisers who follow the safeguarding procedures for pooled investment vehicles should respond accordingly on the following sections of their Form ADV:

Form ADV:

  • Part 1A, Item 9 (A)
  • Part 1A, Item 9 (B)
  • Part 1B, Item 2 I (2)
  • Part 1B, Item 2 I (2) (a)
  • Part 2, Item 14

Important: This exemption does not relieve advisers from the net worth requirement, which may be lowered to $10,000, or from the requirement to file unaudited financial statements.

33) I inadvertently received securities or checks from my advisory clients. Do I have custody?

Yes. To avoid having custody, you must return the securities to the sender promptly within two business days of receiving them. In the case of checks received inadvertently, the adviser must forward the checks to the third party within two business days of receipt.

Important: You are also required to keep accurate records of the securities and funds you received and returned. Such records should contain the description of the checks/securities, when and from whom they were received, where they were sent, and a record of how they were returned.

34) Who can be an independent party?

For purposes of the safeguarding procedures for pooled investment vehicles, an independent party must:

(1) Be a certified public accountant (CPA) or an attorney in good standing with the California  State Bar;
(2)Act as a gatekeeper for the payment of fees, expenses, and capital withdrawals from the  pooled investment;
(3) Not control, and is not controlled by or under common control with the adviser; and
(4) Not have, and have had within the past two years, a material business relationship with the  investment adviser.

35) An accounting firm acts as the independent CPA that audits annually my pooled investment vehicle. May the accounting firm also act as the independent representative for the investors in the pooled investment vehicle?

No, this accounting firm is not acceptable as an independent representative. The independent representative may not have, or have had within the past two years, a material business relationship with the adviser. Also, the purpose for this safeguard is for the independent representative to act as the agent for an advisory client and is thus obliged to act in the best interest of the advisory client, limited partner, member or other beneficial owner. When the CPA sent audited financial statements of the pooled investment vehicle, it would be, in essence, sending itself its own audit results. This is not in the best interest of the investors in the pooled investment vehicle and is not allowed.

Important: Alternatively, if the accounting firm audits the investment adviser’s financial statements or prepares tax filings for the pooled investment vehicle and its investors, the result would be the same. That is, the accounting firm would not satisfy the independence criteria since it has a material business relationship with the adviser


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

Bart Mallon, Esq. runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  Mallon P.C. will also help California based Investment Advisors to register with the California Securities Regulation Division.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund or an investmen advisor looking to register, please call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.

Hedge Fund Regulation Principles

IOSCO Pushes Securities Regulators to Adopt Registration Provisions

Over the past few months we have been highlighting the Congressional attempts to regulate and/or register hedge funds and more recently have discussed the Obama hedge fund registration plan.  However, we have not discussed what is happening internationally.  Like the in the US, other major financial centers around the world have suffered from the economic downturn and have begun looking towards greater regulation of the financial system – this of course means greater regulation of hedge funds and registration for hedge fund managers.

There has been much discussion, both in the US and abroad, about world-wide principles for regulation.  There would be obvious benefits for some sort of international standards for all parts of the financial system, but there would need to be an unprecedented amount of cooperation between the various financial regulatory agencies which seems like an insurmountable task.  However, one group, the International Organization of Securities Commissions’ (IOSCO), is doing its best to act as a sort of communicator of best practices that financial regulatory systems should integrate into new regulations which are expected to be proposed in many jurisdictions.

Below I have published a press release announcing the IOSCO’s report on hedge fund oversight.  The full 26 page report, IOSCO Hedge Fund Regulation Report, tackles some of the high level issues which regulatory bodies should consider when drafting new hedge fund regulations.  It will be interesting to see how this report is received in the different jurisdictions throughout the world.


Madrid, 22 June 2009

IOSCO publishes principles for hedge funds regulation

The International Organization of Securities Commissions’ (IOSCO) Technical Committee has today published Hedge Funds Oversight: Final Report which contains six high level principles that will enable securities regulators to address, in a collective and effective way, the regulatory and systemic risks posed by hedge funds in their own jurisdictions while supporting a globally consistent approach.

The report, which was prepared by the Task Force on Unregulated Entities (Task Force), recommends that all securities regulators apply the principles in their regulatory approaches.

The six high level principles are:

  1. Hedge funds and/or hedge fund managers/advisers should be subject to mandatory registration;
  2. Hedge fund managers/advisers which are required to register should also be subject to appropriate ongoing regulatory requirements relating to:
    1. Organisational and operational standards;
    2. Conflicts of interest and other conduct of business rules;
    3. Disclosure to investors; and
    4. Prudential regulation.
  3. Prime brokers and banks which provide funding to hedge funds should be subject to mandatory registration/regulation and supervision. They should have in place appropriate risk management systems and controls to monitor their counterparty credit risk exposures to hedge funds;
  4. Hedge fund managers/advisers and prime brokers should provide to the relevant regulator information for systemic risk purposes (including the identification, analysis and mitigation of systemic risks);
  5. Regulators should encourage and take account of the development, implementation and convergence of industry good practices, where appropriate;
  6. Regulators should have the authority to co-operate and share information, where appropriate, with each other, in order to facilitate efficient and effective oversight of globally active managers/advisers and/or funds and to help identify systemic risks, market integrity and other risks arising from the activities or exposures of hedge funds with a view to mitigating such risks across borders.

Kathleen Casey, Chairman of the Technical Committee, said:

“Securities regulators recognise that the current crisis in financial markets is not a hedge fund driven event. Hedge funds contribute to market liquidity, price efficiency, risk distribution and global market integration. Nevertheless the crisis has given regulators the opportunity to consider the systemic role hedge funds may play and the way in which we deal with the regulatory risks they may pose to the oversight of markets and protection of investors.

“The application of these principles, in a collective, cooperative and efficient way, can provide regulators with the tools to obtain sufficient, relevant information in order to address the regulatory and systemic risks posed by hedge funds.”

The Task Force was chaired by the CONSOB of Italy and the Financial Services Authority of the United Kingdom. It was established in November 2008 to support the initiatives undertaken by the G-20 to restore global growth and achieve reforms in the world’s financial systems.

The Task Force will continue to work to support the implementation of these standards by its members and to deal with future regulatory issues that may arise in relation to hedge funds. It will act as the contact point with prudential regulators and banking standards setters, as well as other regulatory bodies such as the Joint Forum and the hedge fund industry in relation to the development and implementation of industry standards of best practice.


1. Hedge Funds Oversight – Final Report of the Technical Committee of IOSCO is available on IOSCO’s website.

2. Hedge Funds Oversight – Consultation Report of the Technical Committee of IOSCO was published on 30 April 2009.

3. IOSCO is recognized as the leading international policy forum for securities regulators. The organization’s wide membership regulates more than 95% of the world’s securities markets and IOSCO is the international cooperative forum for securities regulatory agencies. IOSCO members regulate more than one hundred jurisdictions and its membership is steadily growing.

4. The Technical Committee, a specialised working group established by IOSCO’s Executive Committee, is made up of eighteen agencies that regulate some of the worlds larger, more developed and internationalized markets. Its objective is to review major regulatory issues related to international securities and futures transactions and to coordinate practical responses to these concerns. Ms. Kathleen Casey, Commissioner of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission is the Chairman of the Technical Committee. The members of the Technical Committee are the securities regulatory authorities of Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Ontario, Quebec, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.

5. IOSCO aims through its permanent structures:

  • to cooperate together to promote high standards of regulation in order to maintain just, efficient and sound markets;
  • to exchange information on their respective experiences in order to promote the development of domestic markets;
  • to unite their efforts to establish standards and an effective surveillance of international securities transactions;
  • to provide mutual assistance to promote the integrity of the markets by a rigorous application of the standards and by effective enforcement against offenses.

Greg Tanzer
Direct Line + 34 91 417 5549
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.iosco.org

Other related hedge fund law articles include:

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.

* * *

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.


Over 100 Hedge Fund Managers Apply For PPIP

The Treasury announced today that they received over 100 applications from fund managers who want to participate in the Public Private Investment Program (PPIP).  There have been a number of questions regarding the structure of investment vehicles under the PPIP.  In addition to the Treasury release from earlier today, I have included below some additional information on the PPIP that might be useful to hedge fund managers who are thinking of participating in this program in the future.


Treasury Announces Receipt of Applications to Become Fund Managers under Public Private Investment Program

Washington, DC — The Treasury Department today announced the receipt of more than 100 unique applications from potential fund managers interested in participating in the Legacy Securities portion of the Public Private Investment Program (PPIP).  A variety of institutions applied, including traditional fixed income, real estate, and alternative asset managers.

Successful applicants must demonstrate a capacity to raise private capital and manage funds in a manner consistent with Treasury’s goal of protecting taxpayers.   Treasury will also evaluate the applicant’s depth of experience investing in eligible assets. Finally, the applicant must be headquartered in the United States.

Treasury expects to inform applicants of their preliminary qualification around May 15, 2009. Once a fund receives preliminary qualification, it can begin raising the expected minimum of $500 million in private capital that will serve as the investment that, pending further approval, will be matched with taxpayer funds.  As we have stated previously, Treasury anticipates opening the program to smaller fund managers in the future, which may result in a lower minimum private capital raising requirement.

Since announcing the program details on March 23, Treasury has encouraged small, veteran, minority and women owned private asset managers to partner with other private asset managers. On April 6, Treasury extended the deadline for fund manager applications to provide more time to facilitate these types of partnerships. We are pleased to see a number of creative partnership proposals among the applications we are currently evaluating.

Today’s announcement is the latest milestone in making operational the PPIP for legacy loans and securities, a key part of the Administration’s efforts to repair balance sheets throughout our financial system and ensure that credit is available to the households and businesses, large and small, that will help drive us toward recovery.

For further information on the PPIP, please visit:


Public-Private Investment Program

Updated: April 6, 2009

To address the challenge of legacy assets, Treasury – in conjunction with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve – has announced the Public-Private Investment Program as part of its efforts to repair balance sheets throughout our financial system and ensure that credit is available to the households and businesses, large and small, that will help drive us toward recovery.

Three Basic Principles: Using $75 to $100 billion in TARP capital and capital from private investors, the Public-Private Investment Program will generate $500 billion in purchasing power to buy legacy assets – with the potential to expand to $1 trillion over time. The Public-Private Investment Program will be designed around three basic principles:

  • Maximizing the Impact of Each Taxpayer Dollar: First, by using government financing in partnership with the FDIC and Federal Reserve and co-investment with private sector investors, substantial purchasing power will be created, making the most of taxpayer resources.
  • Shared Risk and Profits With Private Sector Participants: Second, the Public-Private Investment Program ensures that private sector participants invest alongside the taxpayer, with the private sector investors standing t o lose their entire investment in a downside scenario and the taxpayer sharing in profitable returns.
  • Private Sector Price Discovery: Third, to reduce the likelihood that the government will overpay for these assets, private sector investors competing with one another will establish the price of the loans and securities purchased under the program.

The Merits of This Approach: This approach is superior to the alternatives of either hoping for banks to gradually work these assets off their books or of the government purchasing the assets directly. Simply hoping for banks to work legacy assets off over time risks prolonging a financial crisis, as in the case of the Japanese experience. But if the government acts alone in directly purchasing legacy assets, taxpayers will take on all the risk of such purchases – along with the additional risk that taxpayers will overpay if government employees are setting the price for those assets.

Two Components for Two Types of Assets: The Public-Private Investment Program has two parts, addressing both the legacy loans and legacy securities clogging the balance sheets of financial firms:

  • Legacy Loans: The overhang of troubled legacy loans stuck on bank balance sheets has made it difficult for banks to access private markets for new capital and limited their ability to lend.
  • Legacy Securities: Secondary markets have become highly illiquid, and are trading at prices below where they would be in normally functioning markets. These securities are held by banks as well as insurance companies, pension funds, mutual funds, and funds held in individual retirement accounts.


PPIP Whitepaper


Legacy Securities Termsheet

Fund Structure

Treasury and a vehicle controlled by the applicable Fund Manager through which private investors will invest in a Fund (each, a “Private Vehicle”) will be the sole investors in a Fund. Additional detail with respect to Fund Structure can be found under “Fund Structure Detail” below.

Pre-Qualification of Fund Managers

Private asset managers wishing to participate in this program should submit the application found at http://www.financialstability.gov/ to Treasury as part of the selection process. Fund Managers will be pre-qualified based upon criteria that are anticipated to include:

  • Demonstrated capacity to raise at least $500 million of private capital.
  • Demonstrated experience investing in Eligible Assets, including through performance track records.A minimum of $10 billion (market value) of Eligible Assets under management.
  • Demonstrated operational capacity to manage the Funds in a manner consistent with Treasury’s stated Investment Objective while also protecting taxpayers.
  • Headquarters in the United States.

Other criteria are identified in the application. Treasury will consider suggestions from Fund Managers to raise equity capital from retail investors.

3 year lock up period


Q&A on the Program

Legacy Securities FAQs

How are Legacy TALF and the Legacy Securities PPIP related?

Legacy TALF and the Legacy Securities PPIP are separate programs. Legacy TALF will be a Federal Reserve lending program with its own set of terms, conditions and eligibility requirements. Legacy TALF will be made widely available to investors (who meet Federal Reserve eligibility standards) regardless of whether or not they participate in the Legacy Securities PPIP. Pre-qualified Fund Managers in the Legacy Securities PPIP may choose to utilize leverage pursuant to the Legacy TALF program, when it becomes operational and subject to its terms and conditions. For the avoidance of doubt, a qualified investor utilizing Legacy TALF will do so on the same terms and conditions as a Legacy Securities PPIP investor utilizing Legacy TALF.

Will Treasury require pre-qualified Fund Managers to raise a minimum level of private capital?

Yes. In the initial group, pre-qualified Fund Managers will be expected to raise at least $500 million of private capital. However, as discussed above, Treasury currently anticipates opening the program to smaller Fund Managers in the future which may result in a lower minimum private capital raising requirement.

Will Treasury provide a public list of all pre-qualified Fund Managers?

Yes. Treasury expects to provide a public list including only the pre-qualified Fund Managers.


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

Hedge Fund Due Diligence Firm Drops Ball, Receives Fine

In what represents an unbelievable screw-up, professed hedge fund due diligence firm Hennessee Group was charged by the SEC with not performing the due diligence it supposedly provided to hedge fund investors who used their services.  According to the SEC Administrative Order, Henessee did not perform certain key elements of the due diligence process which they advertised to potential clients.  Because of the lack of due diligence, Henessee recommended investing into the fraudulent Bayou hedge fund.

A few of the more interesting parts of the release include the following:

From February 2003 through August 2005, approximately forty clients of Hennessee Group invested a total of over $56 million in the Bayou funds after receiving Hennessee Group’s recommendations. Most of those monies were lost and dissipated by Bayou’s principals, who defrauded their investors by fabricating Bayou’s performance in client account statements, periodic newsletters, and year-end financial statements that included a phony audit opinion fabricated by one of Bayou’s principals.


Hennessee Group and Gradante, in their capacities as investment advisers, owed fiduciary duties to their clients to perform the services that they represented they would provide and to disclose all material departures from the representations that they made to their clients. Despite their representations about their services, with regard to the Bayou Funds and the funds’ management, Hennessee Group and Gradante did not perform two of the five elements of the due diligence evaluation that they had represented to their clients they would undertake. In addition, Hennessee Group and Gradante failed to adequately respond to information that they received that suggested that the identity of Bayou’s outside auditor was in doubt and that there existed a potential conflict of interest between one of Bayou’s principals and its purported outside auditor.


With regard to Bayou, Hennessee Group, at Gradante’s direction, failed to perform two elements of the due diligence evaluation that Hennessee Group had told its clients and prospective clients that it would do: (1) a portfolio/trading analysis; and (2) a verification of Bayou’s relationship with its purported independent auditor. By not conducting the entire due diligence evaluation that it had advertised, and by failing to disclose to clients that its evaluation of Bayou deviated from its prior representations, Hennessee Group and Gradante rendered the prior representations about the due diligence process materially misleading and breached their fiduciary duties to Hennessee Group’s clients.


In the fall of 2002, Bayou refused to provide Hennessee Group with the prime brokerage reports that Hennessee Group had requested. However, instead of insisting that Bayou provide the reports as a condition of potentially being recommended, Hennessee Group proceeded to the next phases of due diligence. Gradante decided that a portfolio/trading analysis was irrelevant for a day-trading fund like Bayou, which stated in marketing materials that it held securities positions for brief periods of time and converted positions to cash prior to each day’s market closing.

As a result, Hennessee Group did not obtain or evaluate any quantitative information about Bayou’s portfolio characteristics, investment and trading strategies, or risk management discipline. Instead of confirming Bayou’s results and processes through an analysis of Bayou’s historical trading data to determine whether the fund was, in fact, executing its purported “high-velocity” day-trading strategy and utilizing appropriate risk management techniques, Gradante and Hennessee Group relied entirely on Bayou’s uncorroborated representations and purported rates of return that Bayou had provided during its initial information-gathering phases.

Hennessee Group never told the clients to whom it recommended Bayou that it had not conducted a portfolio/trading analysis on the funds. By failing to disclose this information in connection with its recommendation of Bayou, Hennessee Group left those clients with the misleading impression that it had conducted a portfolio, trading, and risk management evaluation of Bayou and that Bayou had satisfied Hennessee Group’s purported standards. In so doing, Hennessee Group and Gradante breached their fiduciary duties to Hennessee Group’s clients.

I have written a number of posts about proper hedge fund due diligence and am always surprised how haphazardly investments are made into some hedge funds.  Over the past six to eight months I have also been surprised that so many sophisticated and savvy investors would be duped by frauds like Madoff… but I guess if those gatekeepers who are paid to help investors research managers are asleep at the wheel we can’t really expect much more from investors.

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


SEC Charges Investment Adviser That Recommended Bayou Hedge Funds to Clients


Washington, D.C., April 22, 2009 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged New York-based investment adviser Hennessee Group LLC and its principal Charles J. Gradante with securities law violations for failing to perform their advertised review and analysis before recommending that their clients invest in the Bayou hedge funds that were later discovered to be a fraud.

In a settled administrative proceeding, the Commission issued an order finding that Hennessee Group and Gradante did not perform key elements of the due diligence that they had represented they would conduct prior to recommending investments in the Bayou hedge funds. The SEC also finds that they failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into red flags concerning Bayou. Hennessee Group and Gradante routinely represented to clients and prospective clients that they would not recommend investments in hedge funds that did not satisfy all phases of their due diligence evaluation.

“Forewarned is forearmed — investment advisers must make good on their promises or face the consequences of vigorous SEC enforcement action,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

“As the Commission found, these investment advisers failed to honor the representations they made to their clients and did not disclose these material departures from their advertised services,” said Antonia Chion, Associate Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “The advice that clients receive from hedge fund consultants is especially critical when the hedge funds are neither regulated nor transparent.”

According to the Commission’s order, approximately 40 clients invested millions of dollars in the Bayou hedge funds from February 2003 through August 2005 after the Hennessee Group recommended those investments. Most of the money was lost through trading or dissipated by Bayou’s principals, who defrauded their investors by fabricating Bayou’s performance in client account statements and year-end financial statements. The SEC charged the managers of the Bayou hedge funds with fraud in 2005.

The Commission’s order finds that Hennessee Group and Gradante failed to conduct the portfolio and trading analysis that it had advertised to clients. Instead of analyzing Bayou’s results and processes through a review of Bayou’s historical trading methods to determine whether the fund was, in fact, successfully executing its purported day-trading strategy, Hennessee Group and Gradante decided not to perform any analysis after Bayou refused to produce its trading data. They relied entirely on Bayou’s uncorroborated representations about its strategy and its purported rates of return.

The Commission’s order also finds that despite conflicting reports from Bayou about the identity of their independent auditor, Hennessee Group and Gradante failed to verify Bayou’s relationship with its auditor. In fact, the accounting firm that purportedly conducted Bayou’s annual audit was a non-existent entity fabricated by one of Bayou’s principals, who was identified in publicly available state accountancy board records as the registered agent for the bogus accounting firm.

According to the Commission’s order, Hennessee Group and Gradante also failed to respond to red flags concerning Bayou that came to their attention while they were monitoring Bayou on behalf of their clients. In particular, they failed to inquire or investigate when Bayou provided contradictory responses regarding the identity of its auditor or to adequately inquire about a rumor that one of Bayou’s principals was affiliated with Bayou’s purported outside auditing firm.

The Commission’s order finds that Hennessee Group and Gradante violated Section 206(2) of the Advisers Act. The order requires Hennessee Group and Gradante to pay $814,644.12 in disgorgement and penalties, and to cease and desist from committing or causing further violations. The parties also are required to adopt policies to ensure adequate disclosures in the future and to provide copies of the Commission’s Order to all current and prospective clients for a period of two years.

Hennessee Group and Gradante consented to the entry of the Commission’s order without admitting or denying the findings.
# # #
For more information, contact:
Antonia Chion
Associate Director, SEC’s Division of Enforcement
(202) 551-4842
Yuri B. Zelinsky
Assistant Director, SEC’s Division of Enforcement
(202) 551-4769

Thoughts on Hedge Fund Offering Documents

FAQs on Offering Documents

I recently read an article by a hedge fund administration firm which discussed hedge fund offering documents and start up hedge fund expenses.  I thought this was an interesting topic and one which is popular with many of my start up clients.  Below I discuss some of the common questions regarding the offering documents and also provide reasons why a start up manager should use my law firm for starting a hedge fund.


Offering documents are just boilerplate – why are they so expensive?

This is a common misperception.  Offering documents (if done correctly) are not merely boilerplate where the attorney pops in the fund name and the address – offering documents are a tailored to the specific needs of the client based on the client’s investment program and fund structure.

For instance, there are at least 12 different questions related to the management fee and performance fee/ performance allocation.  There are at least 22 different questions related to the fund’s contribution periods and withdrawal periods.  This level of customization does not come from a boilerplate form.  Furthermore, many of these questions or options may have specific implications for the manager’s business either from a legal standpoint or a business standpoint.  Many times the lawyer will need to have an in-depth discussion with the manager to help the manager determine which option is right for the fund.

Why are offering documents so long?

Offering documents are long – there is no getting around it.  The structure of the offering documents are determined by the federal and state securities laws and thus there is not really any wiggle room.  While it is often said that the hedge fund industry is “not regulated” or “lightly regulated” there are many hedge fund laws and regulations which managers must follow.   These laws dictate many aspects of the documents and are why offering documents are so long (and also why offering documents from different firms are structured so similarly).

In this prior post, discussing “Prospectus Creep” we discussed the length of offering documents:

4.  Is the Prospectus written for the Manager or the Investor?

Castle Hall discusses the interesting phenomenon of “Prospectus Creep” or basically the lengthening of hedge fund offering documents as hedge fund lawyers add more clauses to the documents which are designed to protect the managers.  Castle Hall notes that “today’s offering documents are typically drafted to give maximum freedom of action for the manager and often permit unrestricted investment activities. Investors are also faced with offering documents which list every possible risk factor in an attempt to absolve the manager from responsibility under virtually all loss scenarios.”

HFLB: We agree that offering documents can be long and that often they contain a long list of risk factors associated with the investment program.  The purpose of the offering documents is to explain the manager’s investment program and if the manager truly has a “kitchen sink” investment program, then all of the disclosures and risk factors are a necessary part of the offering documents.  However we also feel that hedge fund offering documents should accurately describe the manager’s proposed investment program and that if the manager has a very specific strategy, he should provide as much detail to the investors as possible.

Can I draft offering documents myself?  I have a friend who has some documents I think I can modify.

No.  You should never draft offering documents yourself.  I have seen countless examples of people who have tried to draft their own offering documents based on another fund.  Many times these people will ask me to “check the documents.”  Ninety-five percent of the time a brief skim of the documents will reveal major errors that cannot simply be fixed with a 2 hour review.   In most all occasions the documents will need to be completely scrapped.

Are all law firm offering documents the same?

No, but law firm documents are all very similar.

It is an interesting phenomenon in the hedge fund legal world that attorneys are always interested in (or obsessed with) reading the other law firms offering documents. As one of those lawyers that is very interested in the differences between the offering documents, I have studied the documents from most all of the major hedge fund law firms including the firms listed below which are considered to be the best in the industry.

  • Sidley Austin
  • Shartsis Friese
  • Seward & Kissel
  • Kleinberg, Kaplan, Wolff & Cohen
  • Katten Muchin Rosenman
  • Schulte Roth & Zabel
  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • K&L Gates

I have probably read through 500 different offering documents (many from the same large law firms) and have found most documents to be quite similar. For the most part with a name brand firm you are going to get a quality product that is probably pretty equal to another large or name brand law firm.  These documents will very likely protect you in all of the necessary ways.

However, that is not to say that all large law firm offering documents are perfect.  I have seen offering documents which cost over $70,000 with typos and errors.  Many times expensive offering documents are sloppy in certain respects – I expect this is because many large law firms use inexperienced associate attorneys to draft the offering documents.

Does price equal quality?

Not necessarily.  While you are less likely to receive white glove service from a document shop, BigLaw does not necessarily equate to fine quality – especially for small and start up managers.  In a large law firm you are going to probably initially talk with a partner about your program who will then relay the information to an associate who will be in charge of your project.  This means that your offering documents are likely drafted by an overworked associate who has relatively little experience.

I always recommend a start up manager ask the law firm who will be drafting the offering documents and how much experience the person has.  Many large law firms will say that an associate will draft the documents but the partner will review prior to finalization.  I find it hard to believe that a partner will review offering documents – many times this is not true.

Low cost offering documents – are you getting less quality?

In some cases yes, but in the case of my law firm documents the answer is a resounding NO.  While my firm will charge around $13,000 to $18,000 for offering documents (considered to be on the lower end), this does not mean that the quality of my work is less than any other firm.

As I have mentioned before on this site, I have worked with a substantial number of start up hedge funds and have drafted the offering documents or worked on around 150 funds.   Also, I have spent a great deal of time dissecting offering documents from a large number of firms.  My dedication to completely understanding the offering documents, along with my passion for the industry and helping managers with their business issues makes my services a compelling alternative to other firms which may cost more.

Additionally, I value the client relationship and always strive to return emails and phone calls promptly.


While the offering documents are the tangible item which you receive from your hedge fund lawyer, it is not the only part of the representation.  The offering documents are not valuable as objects, but really as a representation of the prior experience of the attorney who prepared those documents for your fund, based on your needs.


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

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

Hedge Fund Taxes May Increase under Obama

Obama to Propos Taxing Hedge Fund Carried Interest

Groups such as the New York Times and Daily Finance are reporting that Obama’s proposed fiscal 2010 budget, which will be released tomorrow, will include provisions which will increase taxes for hedge fund managers (and private equity fund managers).   Such a provision would likely be written to provide that a carried interest (also called a performance allocation) paid to a management company would be characterized as ordinary income instead of capital gain (to the extent the underlying profits were long term capital gains which are subject to a lower tax rate).

Hedge fund managers are not likely to receive much sympathy from the general public, but this is a hot button issue which will likely incense many of Obama’s supporters.  Hedge fund taxation has been an issue batted around in the media and was especially popular a year and a half ago when the Blackston group was preparing to go public (see Bloomberg article).  The issue has been smoldering for a while (see Hedge Fund Tax Issues 2007), but groups are beginning to examine and analyze this issue (see the abstract of an academic report below) rather than react in a knee-jerk manner.

What we will ask of the President, lawmakers and regulators is that they examine the issue from an academic perspective and make informed decisions.  Hopefully reports like the one below will persuade lawmakers to ultimately keep the carried interest tax preference for hedge funds and private equity funds.

We will continue to report on this issue and will release any applicable information once the fiscal budget is released.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions if you have any hedge fund law questions.


Measuring the Tax Subsidy in Private Equity and Hedge Fund Compensation

Karl Okamoto
Drexel University College of Law

Thomas J. Brennan
Northwestern University School of Law

February 26, 2008

Drexel College of Law Research Paper No. 2008-W-01


A debate is raging over the taxation of private equity and hedge fund managers. It is being played out in the headlines, in Congress and among legal scholars. This paper offers a new analysis of the subject. We provide an analytical model that allows us to compare the relative risk-reward benefit enjoyed by private equity and hedge fund managers and other managerial types such as corporate executives and entrepreneurs. We look to relative benefits in order to determine the extent to which the current state of the world favors the services of a private equity or hedge fund manager over these other workers. Our conclusion is that private equity and hedge fund managers do outperform other workers on a risk-adjusted, after-tax basis. In the case of hedge fund managers, this superiority persists even after the preferential tax treatment is eliminated, suggesting that taxes alone do not provide a complete explanation. We assume that over time compensation of private equity and hedge fund managers should approach equilibrium on a risk-adjusted basis with other comparable compensation opportunities. In the meantime, however, our model suggests that differences in tax account for a substantial portion of the disjuncture that exists at the moment. It also quantifies the significant excess returns to private fund managers that must be taken into account by arguments in support of their current tax treatment by analogy to entrepreneurs and corporate executives. This analysis is important for two reasons. It provides a perspective on the current issue that has so far been ignored by answering the question of how taxation may affect behavior in the market for allocating human capital. It also provides quantitative precision to the current debate which relies significantly on loosely drawn analogies between fund managers on the one hand and entrepreneurs and corporate executives on the other. This paper provides the mathematics that these comparisons imply.

Other hedge fund tax and law articles include:

New Hedge Fund Laws Proposed in Connecticut

State to Increase Regulation of Hedge Funds

(www.hedgefundlawblog.com)  Connecticut, home of many of the biggest hedge funds in the world, may begin regulating hedge funds in a heavy handed manner.  Recently state lawmakers have introduced three bills (Raised Bill No. 953, Raised Bill No. 6477 and Raised Bill No. 6480) which would greatly increase oversight of hedge funds which have a presence in Connecticut.   This article provides an overview of the three raised bills and provides reprints the actual text of these bills.

Raised Bill No. 953

The largest of the three bills, No. 953 has the following central features:

  • Definitions certain terms (including the term “Hedge Fund”) which are used throughout the bill.
  • Provides that, starting in 2011, hedge funds may not have individual investors  who do not have $2.5 million in “investment assets” (different than net worth)
  • Provides that, starting in 2011, hedge funds may not have institutional investors who do not have $5 million in “investment assets”
  • Provides that funds must disclose certain conflicts of interest of the manager
  • Provides that funds must disclose the existence of side letters
  • Requires an annual audit (beginning in 2010)

The above provisions would apply to those funds which have an office in Connecticut where employees regularly conduct business on behalf of the fund.   It is currently unclear whether there will be any sort of grandfathering provisions for those funds which currently have investors who do  not meet the “investment assets” threshold.   Another interesting part of the bill is that it defines a hedge fund with reference to Section 3(c)(1) and Section 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act.  The recently proposed Hedge Fund Transparency Act would actually eliminate these sections and add new Section 6(a)(6) and Section 6(a)(7).

Raised Bill No. 6477

The next bill is No. 6477 which would require hedge funds to be regulated by the Connecticut Banking Commission.  The bill requires hedge funds to purchase a $500 license issued by the Connecticut Banking Commissioner prior to conducting business in Connecticut.  The license would need to be purchased each year.  The bill also provides the Banking Commission with authority to adopt regulations.

This bill is interesting because it is fundamentally different from most hedge fund regulations which seek to regulate the management company through investment advisor registration.  This bill regulates the fund entity (as opposed to the management company) and does so through the power of the state to regulate banking.   Right now it looks like this bill will apply to all hedge funds, even those who do not utilize leverage.  It is not currently clear why or how the Banking Commission has jurisdiction non-banking private pools of capital, especially for those funds which do not utilize any sort of leverage.

It is also interesting to note that No. 6477 would apply regardless of the registration status of the fund’s management company.  This means that a fund could be subject to SEC oversight and may also be subject to direct oversight by the Connecticut Department of Banking (“DOB”), which means the DOB could presumably conduct audits of the fund.  Of course, this could potentially greatly increase operational costs for hedge funds with an office in Connecticut.

Raised Bill No. 6480

The final bill is No. 6480 which would require Connecticut based hedge funds with Connecticut pension fund investors to disclose detailed portfolio information to such pension funds upon request.  It goes without saying that this bill is likely to receive a considerable amount of scrutiny from the Connecticut hedge fund community.


The hedge fund industry continues to be a major focus of both state and federal lawmakers who are anxious to start regulating these vehicles.  Unfortunately we are witnessing a patchwork approach to regulation where there is little communication between the states and the federal lawmakers.  If other states follow Connecticut’s lead then we face the potential situation where funds in each state will need to follow state specific laws enacted by quick-to-legislate, out-of-touch lawmakers.   Efficiency in the securities markets is undercut by overlapping and unnecessary regulations – both managers and investors would be better served by a comprehensive effort to revise the securities laws at the federal and state levels.


Raised Bill No. 953
January Session, 2009

Referred to Committee on Banks
Introduced by: (BA)


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2009) (a) As used in this section:

(1) “Hedge fund” means any investment company, as defined in Section 3(a)(1) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, located in this state (A) that claims an exemption under Section 3(c)(1) or Section 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act of 1940; (B) whose offering of securities is exempt under the private offering safe harbor criteria in Rule 506 of Regulation D of the Securities Act; and (C) that meets any other criteria as may be established by the Banking Commissioner in regulations adopted under subsection (f) of this section. A hedge fund is located in this state if such fund has an office in Connecticut where employees regularly conduct business on behalf of the hedge fund;

(2) “Institutional investor” means an investor other than an individual investor including, but not limited to, a bank, savings and loan association, registered broker, dealer, investment company, licensed small business investment company, corporation or any other legal entity;

(3) “Investment assets” includes any security, real estate held for investment purposes, bank deposits, cash and cash equivalents, commodity interests held for investment purposes and such other forms of investment assets as may be established by the Banking Commissioner in regulations adopted under subsection (f) of this section;

(4) “Investor” means any holder of record of a class of equity security in a hedge fund;

(5) “Major litigation” means any legal proceeding in which the hedge fund is a party which if decided adversely against the hedge fund would require such fund to make material future expenditures or have a material adverse impact on the hedge fund’s financial position;

(6) “Manager” means an individual located in this state who has direct and personal responsibility for the operation and management of a hedge fund; and

(7) “Material” means, with respect to future expenditures or adverse impact on the hedge fund’s financial position, more than one per cent of the assets of the hedge fund.

(b) On or after January 1, 2011, no hedge fund shall consist of individual investors who, individually or jointly with a spouse, have less than two million five hundred thousand dollars in investment assets or institutional investors that have less than five million dollars in assets.

(c) The manager shall disclose to each investor or prospective investor in a hedge fund, not later than thirty days before any investment in the hedge fund, any financial or other interests the manager may have that conflict with or are likely to impair, the manager’s duties and responsibilities to the fund or its investors.

(d) The manager shall disclose, in writing, to each investor in a hedge fund (1) any material change in the investment strategy and philosophy of the fund and the departure of any individual employed by such fund who exercises significant control over the investment strategy or operation of the fund, (2) the existence of any side letters provided to investors in the fund, and (3) any major litigation involving the fund or governmental investigation of the fund.

(e) On January 1, 2010, and annually thereafter, the manager shall disclose, in writing, to each investor in a hedge fund (1) the fee schedule to be paid by the hedge fund including, but not limited to, management fees, brokerage fees and trading fees, and (2) a financial statement indicating the investor’s capital balance that has been audited by an independent auditing firm.

(f) The Banking Commissioner may adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54 of the general statutes, to implement the provisions of this section.\


Raised Bill No. 6477
January Session, 2009

Referred to Committee on Banks
Introduced by: (BA)


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2009) (a) No person shall establish or conduct business in this state as a hedge fund or private capital fund without a license issued by the Banking Commissioner. Applicants for such license shall apply to the Department of Banking on forms prescribed by the commissioner. Each application shall be accompanied by a fee of five hundred dollars. Such license shall be valid for one year and may be renewed upon payment of a fee of five hundred dollars and in accordance with the regulations adopted pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(b) The Banking Commissioner shall adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes for purposes of this section.


Raised Bill No. 6480
January Session, 2009

Referred to Committee on Banks
Introduced by: (BA)


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2009) Any hedge fund or private capital fund that is (1) domiciled in the state, and (2) receiving money from pension funds domiciled in the state shall disclose to each prospective pension investor in such funds, upon request, financial information including, but not limited to, detailed portfolio information relative to the assets and liabilities of such funds.