The Securities and Exchange Commission Enforcement Division last week settled enforcement actions against three mid-sized registered investment advisors for failing to establish, maintain and follow written compliance procedures. Two of the firms had assets under management less than the new $100 million cutoff for federal registration, and the other firm's assets were just over that amount.
OMNI Investment Advisors, Inc., was a two-advisor firm with 190 accounts and $65 million under management. The SEC found that it had no compliance program in place for over two years, during which time the owner and CCO was out of the country and not actively engaged in the firm's business. When the SEC announced an examination of the firm in late 2010, the firm apparently purchased an "off-the-shelf" compliance manual designed for both broker-dealers and investment advisors, but did not customize it for its own advisory business. No annual compliance reviews were conducted, and the firm's advisors were apparently not supervised. The firm's owner was also found to have backdated and failed to review a number of documents containing his signature, including client advisory agreements. As a sanction, the SEC barred the firm's owner from the securities industry and fined him $50,000, in addition to censuring the firm.