The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been examining certain recently registered investment advisers by conducting limited scope, one-day examinations. According to the SEC’s cover letter sent in advance of these audits, “the purpose of these examinations is to assess and discuss important risk areas presented be the registered investment advisers’ operations and the related compliance policies and procedures implemented by the registered investment advisers to manage those risks.”
RIA Compliance Consultants, Inc. (RCC) has had first-hand experience with these limited scope examinations. A handful of RCC clients have been visited by their respective SEC regional offices this year. Specifically, RCC is aware of the Philadelphia Regional Office and the Atlanta Regional Office conducting these audits. To find out which SEC regional office has jurisdiction over your firm, click here. It appears the SEC is conducting visits of registered investment advisers that have been approved for approximately one year. The examinations appear to be an effort by the SEC to make sure registered investment advisers are on the right track.
As part of the one-day visit, the SEC expects to speak to at least one member of senior management and/or the Chief Compliance Officer to obtain an overall view of the registered investment adviser’s organization, business, control environment, and compliance culture. The following are some of the topics discussed during the visits: the adequacy of the firm’s compliance program; portfolio management decisions being consistent with client mandates; disclosures to clients; brokerage arrangements; allocations among client accounts; personal trading activities of access persons; fiduciary obligations; performance and other information in marketing and advertising; and the safety of client information. Special attention has been paid to firms that manage hedge funds and other pooled accounts.
In preparation of the examinations, the SEC has been requesting a limited list of books and records. The following includes some of the documents requested during these examinations: Form ADV Part II and Schedules; organizational charts (both internal and of all affiliated entities); compliance policies and procedures; client lists including calculations of assets under management; and financial statements.
If you are a newly registered investment adviser, give RCC a call to find out about our mock-regulatory examination and training visits. We can discuss how our consulting services can help you prepare for an examination as discussed in this article or a full-blown routine SEC examination.