Below is the second quarter update we have sent out to our mailing list. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact us here.
Cole-Frieman & Mallon Second Quarter Update
Clients and Friends:
In the second quarter of 2013 we have seen accelerating activity in the world of investment management regulatory compliance. As we move into the third quarter, we would like to provide you with a brief overview of some items that we hope will help you stay on top of the business and regulatory landscape in the coming months.
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) Deadline Approaching. Foreign financial institutions (“FFIs”) such as offshore funds may be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax on payments they receive from U.S. sources as soon as January 1, 2014 if they fail to complete the following steps before October 25, 2013: (1) register with the IRS through an online web portal which will become available on July 15, 2013; (2) enter into an FFI agreement with the IRS via the web portal, or comply with an applicable intergovernmental agreement; and (3) meet the other due diligence, reporting and withholding requirements under FATCA. Offshore fund managers should contact their tax advisers as soon as possible to prepare for FATCA compliance and, if required, to register with the IRS between July 15 and October 25, 2013. In addition, fund managers to domestic funds should work with their tax advisers, administrators and legal counsel to properly address the new account onboarding and due diligence procedures required under FATCA, including updating their offering documents and subscription materials.
JOBS Act Update. The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the “JOBS Act”) was signed into law over a year ago (April 5, 2012) but the SEC has not yet issued implementing regulations. On Wednesday, May 15 the House of Representatives expressed its frustration with the slowness of this process by passing H.R. 701, a House Resolution requiring the SEC to finalize regulations with respect to “Regulation A+” of the JOBS Act. Regulation A+ refers to the part of the JOBS Act which creates a new category of exempt public securities offerings of up to $50 million raised over a 12-month period. In effect this is an expansion of the current “Regulation A” exemption for offerings of up to $5 million over a 12-month period. For fund managers, it remains to be seen whether Regulation A+ might challenge the predominant practice of relying on the exemption “safe harbor” under Rule 506 of Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933. For more information, please refer to our blog article on this topic.
New “Red Flag” Rules for Identity Theft. The SEC and CFTC released joint final regulations (“Regulation S-ID”) requiring “financial institutions” and “creditors” regulated by the SEC or the CFTC to put in place programs to address identity theft risk in any “covered accounts.” The terms “financial institutions” and “creditors” cover a wide range of participants in the investment management industry, including certain investment advisers, commodity pool operators, commodity trading advisers, broker-dealers and futures commission merchants (among others). The definition of the term “covered accounts” is broad and includes brokerage accounts with a broker-dealer and margin accounts. Most importantly, to comply with the new regulations, a program must be put in place which includes reasonable policies and procedures to do the following: (1) describe relevant “red flag” situations that, if they arise, could indicate a risk of identity theft; (2) detect such red flags as they arise, (3) respond appropriately to red flags, and (4) periodically update the program. Compliance with the new regulations will become mandatory on November 20, 2013. Persons affected by these “Red Flag” rules should take the next few months to assess their compliance programs to ensure adequate systems are in place to address identity theft risk.
Futures and Derivatives. Futures and derivatives regulators and self-regulatory organizations have continued to be very busy over the last quarter. Important developments include:
Filings for Newly-Registered CPOs. All CPOs who became registered on January 1, 2013 or during Q1 2013 were required to make their first Form CPO-PQR filing before May 31, 2013. This requirement applies to CPOs relying on the CFTC Rule 4.7 exemption from certain reporting and disclosure requirements. The next due date for Form CPO-PQR is August 29, 2013. If you are a CPO and have not met your filing requirements or would like assistance with the August filing, please do not hesitate to contact us.
- Changes to CPO Filings. All CPOs must make quarterly filings through the NFA’s EasyFile system for CPOs, and the due dates of such filings and the information required in them varies depending on the CPO’s aggregate pool assets under management. Prior to the recent rule amendments, CPOs were faced with separate quarterly reporting forms from the NFA and the CFTC, along with different filing deadlines. The distinction between the NFA version and the CFTC version of the form still exists; however, each version has been amended to incorporate certain information required by the other regulator. In addition, the NFA changed certain of its filing deadlines to match CFTC deadlines. The NFA also added a “cover page” to the EasyFile system with questions on the CPO’s aggregate pool assets under management, and based on the CPO’s responses the system automatically determines which version of the Form CPO-PQR needs to be filed. The NFA published a chart and other guidance to assist filers with the changes.
- Upcoming Changes to CTA Filings. The NFA’s recent Notice states that CTAs will soon be required to file Form CTA-PR with the NFA on a quarterly basis, whereas currently this form is filed annually. However, this rule is not yet in effect. The NFA has stated it will send out an alert well in advance of the effective date. When the new rule goes into effect, CTAs will need to file the Form CTA-PR via the NFA’s EasyFile system for CTAs within 45 days of the end of each calendar quarter.
- Equity Total Return Swaps and CPO Exemption. As of June 30, 2013 equity total return swaps on foreign securities became designated as “mixed swaps” subject to both SEC and CFTC jurisdiction. As a result, they are no longer exempt from being counted toward the de minimis exemption from CPO registration under CFTC Rule 4.13(a)(3). Fund managers that rely on this exemption from CPO registration and that advise funds trading in equity total return swaps should assess their funds’ exposure to these instruments to determine whether they can continue relying on the de minimis exemption.
- ISDA March 2013 Dodd-Frank Protocol. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association’s Dodd-Frank Documentation Initiative aims to facilitate compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act. The Documentation Initiative minimizes the need for bilateral negotiation and reduces disruptions to trading by providing a standard set of amendments, referred to as protocols, to update existing swap documentation. The first such protocol was the ISDA August 2012 Dodd-Frank Protocol (the “Protocol 1.0”), which had an effective compliance date of May 1, 2013. The ISDA March 2013 Dodd-Frank Protocol (the “Protocol 2.0”) is now open for adherence, and its compliance date is July 1, 2013. This means that swap dealers will require client adherence to both Protocol 1.0 and Protocol 2.0 as of July 1, 2013. To indicate participation in Protocol 2.0, market participants must respond to the Protocol 2.0 questionnaire, submit an adherence letter and pay an adherence fee of $500.00 through the online ISDA Amend system. Detailed instructions can be found here.
Cash Solicitation Rule in California. There are many potential legal pitfalls involving relationships between investment advisers and third party marketers. One such pitfall involves Rule 206(4)-3 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, known as the “cash solicitation rule,” which, among other rules, requires that clients must receive written notice of any referral fees paid to marketers. A recent case from the California Court of Appeals, Lloyd v. Metropolitan West Asset Management, LLC highlights at least two important take-aways with respect to the cash solicitation rule. First, the manager could not prove that the client actually received the required notice, emphasizing the importance of documenting such processes and to contractually sharing the burden of such compliance with marketing firms. Second, the court found that the cash solicitation rule applied despite the fact that the client at issue was a non-U.S. client.
New Front-Running Rule for Broker-Dealers. FINRA issued a new rule on front-running of customer block transactions (“Rule 5270”), which took effect on June 1, 2013. Rule 5270 expands the prohibition on front-running by, among other changes, applying the prohibition to fixed income securities and related instruments. It also lays out three categories of “permitted transactions” in which FINRA member firms may engage: (1) transactions that a firm can demonstrate are unrelated to the customer block order; (2) transactions that are undertaken to fulfill or facilitate the execution of the customer block order; and (3) transactions that are executed, in whole or in part, on a national securities exchange and comply with the marketplace rules of that exchange. More information on Rule 5270, including the full FINRA notice, can be found here.
European Union’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (“AIFMD”). Starting July 22, 2013, managers marketing alternative investment funds in the EU must comply with reporting and disclosure obligations under the AIFMD. These obligations consist of providing pre-investment and ongoing disclosures to investors, complying with requirements affecting manager remuneration, and preparing annual and regular reports to an EU national regulator. As a caveat, however, full compliance with the AIFMD may be insufficient for certain managers, because until July 21, 2015, the ability to market to EU investors is still subject to the national law of the jurisdiction where the investor is located. There has been speculation that some countries may move to restrict marketing efforts by US-based managers and/or funds. If you are marketing to EU investors, you should carefully review the directive’s provisions as well as applicable national laws to make sure you comply with all requirements.
Launch of Sansome Strategies LLC. We are pleased to announce the launch of our affiliated compliance consulting company, Sansome Strategies LLC (“Sansome Strategies”). Sansome Strategies specializes in high-touch, outsourced compliance services for firms in the investment management industry. In addition to working with registered investment advisers and hedge fund managers, Sansome Strategies will also focus on firms operating in the commodities/futures and derivatives spaces.
Further information about Sansome Strategies can be found at: sansomestrategies.com
Please also visit the Sansome Strategies blog: www.compliancefocus.com
Compliance Calendar. As you plan your regulatory compliance timeline for the coming months, please keep the following dates in mind:
|July 1, 2013||Dodd-Frank Protocol 2.0 adherence deadline|
|July 15, 2013||IRS FATCA online registration portal available|
|August 29, 2013||Form PF (large funds) & Form CPO-PQR due|
|October 25, 2013||Deadline for registration via IRS FATCA online portal|
|November 20, 2013||“Red Flag” Rule compliance deadline|
|Periodic Filings||Form D and Blue Sky filings should be current|
Please contact us with any questions or for assistance with any compliance, registration or planning issues on any of the above topics.
Karl Cole-Frieman & Bart Mallon
Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP is a premier boutique investment management law firm, providing top-tier, responsive and cost-effective legal solutions for financial services matters.