SEC Fines Investment Adviser for Failure to Disclose Material Conflicts of Interest to Clients

June 20, 2017

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently obtained final judgments by consent against an investment adviser firm and its chief executive officer, who allegedly failed to disclose material conflicts of interest to some of the firm’s clients. The investment adviser firm and its chief executive officer consented to the decree without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC’s complaint.

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United States Department of Labor Declines to Extend Fiduciary Rule Delay

May 30, 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DoL”) recently confirmed that it would not seek to extend the Fiduciary Rule delay. Originally scheduled to go into effect on April 10, 2017, the DoL issued a rule delay earlier this year postponing the applicability date to June 9, 2017 pending a review of the rule ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump. Until this week, it was unclear whether the rule would go into effect on June 9 or be subject to further delay.

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May 10, 2017

The Chief Compliance Officer serves an important role in an investment adviser firm’s business. A role that requires expertise, independent judgment, and dedication, an increasing number of investment adviser firms are choosing to outsource the Chief Compliance Officer position to third party compliance professionals. Despite the potential cost-savings, outsourcing this vital role is generally not a wise business strategy and will likely increase the firm’s risk of exam by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) or affect the depth of inquiry an investment adviser firm is subject to once an exam has begun.

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Wyoming Investment Adviser Registration Requirements

May 09, 2017

As of July 1, 2017 the State of Wyoming will require investment advisers to register with Wyoming securities regulators if the investment adviser has less than $100 million of assets under management (AUM) unless it meets another criteria for registering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Wyoming had been the only state that did not regulate investment advisers.

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Colorado Proposes Cybersecurity Rule for Investment Adviser Firms

April 21, 2017

The Colorado Division of Securities recently proposed two new rules that would require investment adviser firms and broker-dealers to assess cybersecurity risks and implement written policies and procedures “reasonably designed to ensure cybersecurity.” Click here to read the Rulemaking Notice. Given the sensitive and confidential nature of their work, cybersecurity is an important and evolving concern for investment adviser firms.

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DoL Fiduciary Rule Delayed 60 Days

April 07, 2017

Today, the Department of Labor (DoL) published a rule delay for the fiduciary rule, delaying its applicability date by 60 days. The initial applicability date of the fiduciary rule was April 10, 2017.  The 60 day delay moves the applicability date to June 9, 2017.  This action also extends (for 60 days) the applicability dates of the Best Interest Contract Exemption and the Class Exemption for Principal Transactions in Certain Assets Between Investment Advice Fiduciaries and Employee Benefit Plans and IRAs.

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SEC Enforcement Action: Investment Adviser Fails to Disclose Affiliate Broker-Dealer Conflicts of Interest

March 14, 2017

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an enforcement action recently against an investment adviser firm for its alleged failure to disclose fee sharing arrangements that the investment adviser firm entered with its third-party broker dealer. The investment adviser firm consented to the order without admitting or denying the SEC findings, except as specified within the SEC’s Order. Click here to read the full SEC Order Instituting Administrative and Cease-And-Desist Proceedings.

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Inadvertent Custody – SEC Guidance Update

March 07, 2017

In February 2017,  the Division of Investment Management of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a Guidance Update “Inadvertent Custody: Advisory Contract Versus Custodial Contract Authority.” In this Guidance Update, the SEC explained that an investment adviser may have custody of client funds or securities because of provisions in a custodial agreement entered into by the investment advisory client and a qualified custodian.

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SEC Guidance: Robo-Advisers and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940

February 27, 2017

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently issued new guidance for investment adviser firms and individual investors considering the use of robo-advisers. Robo-advisers are becoming increasingly popular among investment adviser firms and clients alike, due to their ability to provide targeted investment advice for a lower investment advisory fee, which increases the accessibility of professional investment advice for frugal investors or investors whose account balances may not meet an investment adviser firm’s required minimum account balance. Robo-advisers are not suitable for every client, however, leading the SEC to issue guidance for investment adviser firms seeking to utilize this new technology.

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SEC Enforcement Action – ETFs and Failure to Follow Policies and Procedures

February 15, 2017

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a press release announcing that an investment adviser, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, agreed to pay an $8 million penalty to settle charges under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 relating to single inverse ETF investments it had recommended to investment advisory clients. Click here to for the entire press release and here for the SEC’s order.

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