On December 21, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an Order Instituting Administrative and Cease-and-Desist Proceedings against Hedgeable, Inc., a registered investment adviser. Hedgeable utilizes a “robo adviser” program, which it offers to individuals, small business owners, trusts, corporations, and partnerships through both its website and social media. The SEC’s Order alleges that from about 2016 through April 2017, Hedgeable made various misleading statements in advertising and performance data. Hedgeable submitted an offer of settlement in order to resolve the proceeding.
According to the Order, Hedgeable launched a so-called “Robo-Index” to present comparisons of its performance against that of two unaffiliated robo advisers. These comparisons were featured on both Hedgeable’s website and various social media sites. The SEC found that Hedgeable’s method of preparing the Robo-Index had significant material issues. For example, the SEC found that data from 2014 and 2015 only featured data from a small pool of Hedgeable client accounts and excluded over 1,000 other client accounts. The SEC alleged that, because of the small sample sizes, the data likely reflected “survivorship bias,” stemming from the fact that the sample size likely only contained clients who received higher than average returns compared to Hedgeable’s other clients. The SEC also determined that Hedgeable’s calculation methods did not correctly estimate expected returns for a standard client of the other two robo advisers. Hedgeable allegedly produced the data in the Robo-Index using estimations of the other robo advisers’ trading models rather than using the robo advisers’ actual models. Continue reading