Articles Posted in Exemptions

In February 2017, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (“FINRA”) published a Regulatory Notice asking for comment on proposed changes to FINRA Rule 2210, which governs communications with the public.  Under current Rule 2210, broker-dealers are not allowed to make communications that “predict or project performance, imply that past performance will recur or make any exaggerated or unwarranted claim, opinion or forecast.”  According to FINRA, the purpose of this rule is to prevent retail investors from relying on performance projections relating to individual investments, which tend to be deceptive.

However, FINRA has acknowledged that performance projections that are not based on how well an individual investment performed can be helpful to investors who are contemplating an investment strategy.  Furthermore, investment advisers are permitted to use performance projections in choosing an investment strategy for their clients, provided that the projections do not violate the Investment Advisers Act of 1940’s antifraud rules.  Therefore, FINRA proposed the amendments to Rule 2210 in order to allow broker-dealers to use projections in a way that benefits clients and to make the rules governing performance projections by broker-dealers and investment advisers more uniform. Continue reading

Parker MacIntyre attorneys Steve Parker and Bryan Gort attended the 2015 annual conference of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) held last week in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As usual, the conference provided valuable guidance and updated information on areas of importance to state-registered investment advisers, as well as federal notice filed broker-dealers and SEC registered investment advisers.

Of interest to state-registered investment advisers are proposed amendments to Part 1B of Form ADV that would attempt to capture an RIA’s use of social media and information on the use of third-party compliance professionals.

NASAA also presented the findings of its 2015 coordinated investment adviser examination review, compiled from the results of over 1100 investment adviser examinations. Once again, books and records deficiencies was the leading category, with 78% of all examined entities having deficiencies in that area. Within that category the failure to maintain adequate client suitability data was the leading deficiency, accounting for 10% of the deficiencies noted within the books and record category.
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On June 19, 2015, new amendments to Regulation A took effect which should increase capital raising options of some smaller businesses. Formerly, the Regulation A exemption was limited to $5 million. The new amendments provide an avenue for businesses to raise up to $50 million of capital. As a result of the new amendments, Regulation A is now divided into two tiers, “Tier 1” and “Tier 2.”

In Tier 1 offerings, companies can raise up to $20 million over a one year period, with not more than $6 million in offers by selling security-holders that are affiliates of the issuer. Under Tier 1, the offering must pass state securities regulation in any state where investors are located.

In Tier 2 offerings, companies can raise up to $50 million over a one year period, with not more than $15 million in offers by selling security-holders that are affiliates of the issuer. A Tier 2 offering has the significant advantage of being exempt from many state registration requirements.
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Delaware has adopted a rule exempting “private fund advisers” from the state’s unlawful conduct provision, including the provision requiring registration as an investment adviser. Under the new rule, a private fund adviser is exempt from Delaware Securities Act unlawful conduct provisions if: (1) neither the private fund adviser nor any advisory affiliates are subject to an event that would disqualify an issuer under federal Regulation D, Rule 506(d)(1); (2) the private fund adviser files with the Director through the IARD each report and amendment that an exempt reporting adviser is required to filed with the SEC under SEC Rule 204-4; and (3) the private fund adviser pays the investment adviser registration fee of $300.

A “private fund adviser” is defined as “an investment adviser who provides advice solely to one or more qualifying private funds, other than a private fund that qualifies for the section (3)(c)(1) investment company act exclusion.” A “qualifying private fund” is a private fund meeting the SEC rule 203(m)-1 “qualifying private fund” definition.
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The Indiana Securities Division recently issued an emergency rule to explain new distinctions in Indiana’s crowdfunding exemptions, which became effective July 1, 2014. Indiana’s new rule is similar to Georgia’s “Invest Georgia” rule, which we have previously profiled.

The Invest Indiana Crowdfunding Exemption, Sec. 23-19-2-2(27), permits Indiana-organized entities to offer or sell securities for intrastate offerings to Indiana residents only. The exemption requires the Indiana-organized entity to file with the Indiana Securities Division SEC Form D, which clearly states “Indiana Only” on the first page, and to include a cover letter identifying that the filing is for the 23-19-2-2 (27) exemption, and to include a $100 filing fee. The Exemption details the requirements for both issuers and investors in regards to an Invest Indiana offering.
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Rhode Island has substantially adopted its proposed private fund adviser exemption, which we previously discussed in a posting dated April 10, 2012. The new rule became effective on May 17, 2012. To qualify for the exemption, the adviser must advise only private funds as defined under SEC Rule 203(m)-1. Furthermore, if it advises non venture capital 3(c)(1) funds, for each such fund:

  • The fund’s beneficial owners must meet the definition of a “qualified client” as defined in SEC Rule 205-3 after deducting the value of the primary residence;
  • The private fund adviser has to disclose the following information in writing to each beneficial owner: (1) all service, if any, to be provided to beneficial owners, (2) all duties owed to beneficial owners, and (3) any other material information affecting the rights or responsibilities of the beneficial owners; and
  • The adviser, on an annual basis, must obtain audited financial statements of each fund and provide a copy to the beneficial owner.

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Numerous states have recently adopted or proposed rules that exempt hedge funds, or “private funds” from the registration requirement of those states’ investment adviser laws. We have previously blogged about a number of state rules including those in Virginia, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Colorado and Rhode Island. The majority of the rules are similar to one another; however, there are a few key differences. Attached is a table detailing the similarities and differences among the seven different states.
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Colorado is the ninth state to adopt a private fund adviser exemption by rule. The exemption became effective on March 30, 2012. The other states that have created similar rules are California, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin, most of which we have already blogged about.

The Colorado rule exempts investment advisers who manage one or more “venture capital funds,” as defined by Rule 203(l)-1 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”), and who comply with the SEC Rule 204-4 reporting requirements. Investment advisers that are relying on this exemption will not be required to file the SEC Rule 204-4 reports with the Colorado Securities Commissioner. The rule also incorporates by reference the “grandfather” provision in Rule 203(l)-1(b) under the Advisers Act. Similar to the rules adopted in other states, it also exempts investment adviser representatives who are employed by or associated with an investment adviser that is already exempt under a private fund exemption. Finally, any investment adviser who is subject to disqualification under the “bad boy” provisions in Rule 262 of SEC Regulation A will not be entitled to the exemption.
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Like numerous other states, Rhode Island has issued a proposed private fund exemption. We have previously discussed various other states that have created the same type of rule in Multiple States Create Private Fund Adviser Exemption, Virginia Releases Proposed Rule Amending Its Exemption for Private Fund Advisers, and California Extends Public Comment Date on Its Proposed Private Fund Exemption Rule.

Under the proposed rule, in order for a private fund adviser to be exempt from registration, the private fund adviser has to satisfy a number of conditions: (1) neither the advisers nor their advisory affiliates are subject to “bad boy” disqualification provisions under Rule 262 of SEC Regulation A, (2) pursuant to SEC Rule 204-4, the private fund adviser files with the state each report and amendment that an exempt reporting adviser is required to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and (3) the private fund adviser pays a $300 fee.
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The House passed the Jumpstart Our Business Act (JOBS Act) again this week with a 380 to 41 vote after the Senate sent it back with amendments. Last week, the Senate passed the JOBS Act with a 73 to 26 vote. The House of Representatives originally passed the bill with an overwhelming majority on March 9, which we discussed in House of Representatives Pass Crowdfunding Bill for the Second Time in JOBS Act.

The JOBS Act received significant bipartisan support. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) stated that the bill was “an increasingly rare legislative victory in Washington where both sides seized the opportunity to work together, improved the bill and passed it with strong support.” President Obama has shown strong support for the bill, and he has said he will sign it as soon as it is sent to him.
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