As we recently highlighted, the Securities and Exchange Commission took enforcement action against three registered investment advisers for violating the pay-to-play rule applicable to advisers under the Investment Advisers Act. Broker-dealers should be aware that in 2017 the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority announced the approval of modifications to two rules – Rules 203 and 458, imposing similar prohibitions and limitations on capital acquisition brokers (“CABs”). A CAB is a FINRA member firm that participates in a restricted amount of activities, such as “advising companies on capital raising and corporate restructuring, and acting as placement agents for sales of unregistered securities to institutional investors under limited conditions.” The rules will implement “’pay-to-play’ and related recordkeeping rules to the activities of member firms that have elected to be governed by the CAB Rules.” The new rules went into effect on December 6, 2017. Continue reading
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) recently filed its revised pay-to-play rules proposal with the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Investment advisers have been awaiting FINRA’s pay-to-play rules ever since the SEC announced last year that it would not recommend enforcement action against an investment adviser or its associated persons for the payment to a third party for the solicitation of a government entity for investment advisory services until either FINRA or the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”) had adopted its own pay-to-pay rules for broker-dealers.
Pay-to-play activities involve the practice of making cash or in kind contributions, or soliciting others to make those contributions, to state or local officials or other government entities as an incentive for the receipt of government contracts. Pursuant to Rule 206(4)-5, investment advisers are prohibited from providing a government entity with investment advisory services for compensation within two years of contributing monetarily to that government entity. In addition, and of particular interest here, under Rule 206(4)-5 investment advisers may not provide payment to any third party to solicit a government entity for investment advisory services on behalf of the investment adviser unless that third party is a registered investment adviser, a registered broker-dealer, or a registered municipal adviser.