Articles Tagged with Form ADV

Beginning October 1, 2017, registered investment advisers are required to use revised form ADV, which requests certain information not sought on previous versions of the form. Advisers will also have to comply with amendments to Rule 204-2 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”).  With the compliance date less than three months away, advisers should examine whether to modify their internal policies and procedures pertaining to Form ADV reporting and recordkeeping, and also should begin the process of collecting the new information and assuring that the information remains available for future Form ADV filings.

The amendments to Form ADV changed the requirements of Item 5 of Part 1A of Form ADV and Section 5 of Schedule D.  The amendments will obligate investment advisers to disclose the estimated percentage of regulatory assets under management (“RAUM”) held in separately managed accounts (“SMAs”) and to indicate those assets “that are invested in twelve broad asset categories.”  Investment advisers with $10 billion or more in RAUM connected to SMAs will be obligated to report both mid-year and end-of-year percentages for each category.  Investment advisers with fewer than $10 billion in RAUM connected to SMAs will only be obligated to report only end-of-year percentages.  The amendments to Form ADV will also require investment advisers to disclose the identity of custodians that make up 10 percent or more of an investment adviser’s total SMA RAUM. Continue reading

On March 8, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an Order Instituting Administrative and Cease-and-Desist Proceedings (“Order”) against Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (“Voya”), an SEC-registered investment adviser.  The Order, to which Voya consented, obligates Voya to pay disgorgement of $2,621,324, prejudgment interest of $174,629.78, and a civil money penalty of $300,000.

The SEC’s Order claims that Voya did not inform its clients that it was receiving compensation from a third-party broker-dealer and that these receipts created a conflict of interest.  Section 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”) states that investment advisers are forbidden from participating in “any transaction, practice, or course of business which operates as a fraud or deceit upon any client or prospective client.”  Section 207 provides that investment advisers are not allowed to “make any untrue statement of a material fact in any registration application or report filed with the Commission, or to omit to state in any such application or report any material fact which is required to be stated therein.”  Finally, Rule 206(4)-7 under the Adviser’s Act compels investment advisers to “[a]dopt and implement written policies and procedures, reasonably designed to prevent violation” of the Adviser’s Act and the rules thereunder. Continue reading

On February 7, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) released a list of five compliance topics that are the most commonly identified topics “in deficiency letters that were sent to SEC-registered investment advisers.”  OCIE published this list in a National Exam Program Risk Alert in order to help advisers who are conducting their annual compliance reviews.

The first compliance topic was compliance with the Compliance Rule, Rule 206(4)-7, which requires an investment adviser to create and execute written policies and procedures that are reasonably tailored to prevent the investment adviser and its supervised persons from violating the Advisers Act and to detect potential violations.  The rule also requires an investment adviser to review the sufficiency of its policies and procedures at least annually and to appoint a chief compliance officer.  According to OCIE, common violations of the Compliance Rule include not having a compliance manual that is reasonably suited to the adviser’s method of doing business, failure to conduct annual reviews or annual reviews that did not cover the sufficiency of the investment adviser’s policies and procedures, failure to follow policies and procedures, and compliance manuals that are outdated.

The second topic that OCIE identified was compliance with the Advisers’ Acts rules on regulatory filings.  For example, Rule 204-1 provides that investment advisers must make amendments to their Form ADV on at least an annual basis, and the amendments must be made “within 90 days of the end of their fiscal year and more frequently, if required by the instructions to Form ADV.”  For investment advisers to private funds, Rule 204(b)-1 provides that an investment adviser must file a Form PF if the investment adviser is advising a private fund or fund with assets of $150 million or more.  Finally, Rule 503 of Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933 provides that issuers of private funds must file a Form D, and investment advisers usually file the Form D for their private fund clients.  OCIE determined that the most frequent violations of these rules were inaccurate disclosures on Form ADV Part 1 or Part 2A, late modifications to Form ADVs, faulty and late Form PF filings, and faulty and late Form D filings.

On January 25, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint in the District Court for the District of Massachusetts (“District Court”) against Strategic Capital Management, LLC (“SCM”), an investment advisory firm, and its owner, Michael J. Breton.  The complaint alleges that Breton, through SCM, garnered about $1.3 million by defrauding clients using what is known as a “cherry-picking” scheme.  The action follows a similar action brought by the SEC last October.

According to the SEC, cherry-picking occurs when an investment adviser “defrauds clients by purchasing stock and then waiting to see if the stock price goes up, or down, before deciding whether to keep the trades… or to put the trades into clients’ accounts.”  Cherry-picking typically involves the investment adviser allocating more profitable trades to its own accounts and allocating less profitable ones to client accounts.  It is a breach of fiduciary duty because it entails an investment adviser placing its interests above those of its clients.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that from about January 2010 through August 2016, Breton and SCM were investment advisers to numerous client accounts.  Breton, through SCM, bought public companies’ securities using a block trading omnibus account known as a “Master Account.”  Through this Master Account, Breton was permitted to make orders for both his personal accounts and his clients’ accounts.

Most deficiencies identified in the course of investment adviser examinations can be remedied by the adviser simply taking corrective measures. This can be true even with regard to deficiencies that are somewhat serious violations, but only if corrective action is taken and sustained.

In 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) starkly demonstrated the importance of following through with promises advisers make to the SEC Examinations Staff. Because they did not make promised corrections, Moloney Securities Co., Inc. and Joseph R. Medley, Jr. were forced to consent to the entry of an Order Instituting Proceedings that required them, among other things, to pay civil penalties and to hire an independent compliance consultant to monitor and report certain aspects of the firm’s compliance program. Continue reading

Nebraska has proposed multiple changes to its securities laws, including changes to investment adviser registration requirements, changes related to broker dealers and agents, and changes relating to securities registration procedures.

As the proposed changes relate to investment advisers, Nebraska proposes to eliminate the Form IAR and to substitute registration through the CRD/IARD system.  An original application for registration would be required to contain Form ADV, Part 2 for the firm and a brochure supplement for each investment adviser representative.  An original application would also be required to contain copies of all other promotional or disclosure literature expected to be provided to clients and perspective clients in Nebraska.  The proposed rule would eliminate from the registration renewal requirements, the current requirements of submission of Form IAR and the promotional and disclosure literature.  The rules would align Nebraska with the annual updating amendment requirements of other states, by requiring submission of annual updating amendments to Form ADV within 90 days of the end of the fiscal year.  Additionally, the rule would require firms to submit other-than-annual amendments to Form ADV as required by the Form ADV instructions.

The proposed rule would also require brochure delivery to clients in a manner consistent with the requirements of most other states.  For example, delivery of Part 2 and a brochure supplement for each individual that provides investment advice and has direct contact with the client, or exercises discretion over the client’s assets in Nebraska either at the time of entering into an advisory contract or within 48 hours before entering into the contract.  If the delivery is made at the time the contract is entered into, the client must be given the right to terminate the contract without penalty within 5 days of entering into the contract.  Either an annual update or summary of material changes must be delivered to each client within 120 days after the end of the firm’s fiscal year.

On November 17th, the Texas State Securities Board’s Office of Inspections and Compliance charged Mowery Capital Management, LLC (“Mowery Capital”) and one of its investment adviser representatives (collectively “Respondents”) with fraud for failing to disclose certain conflicts of interests, charging excessive fees, plagiarizing advertising material, and other material misrepresentations. The complaint requests that the state Securities Commissioner revoke Respondents’ registration with the state, levy an administrative fine, and issue a cease and desist order prohibiting any further fraudulent behavior.

When registering as a registered investment adviser, a Form ADV must be completed and filed with the appropriate securities authority. Part 2 of the Form ADV, or the “Brochure,” acts as the primary disclosure document for clients and requires the applicant to write in plain English general information about the business (i.e. types of services offered, fee schedule, business and educational background of employees), including any possible conflicts of interest the applicant may have.
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As a result of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), mid-sized firms of less than $100 million in assets under management should make the switch from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversight to state regulatory oversight. Most advisers know that under the newly adopted SEC rules, mid-sized advisers that were SEC registered prior to Dodd-Frank must remain SEC registered through the first quarter of 2012, and then complete their switch to state regulation by June 28, 2012. Firms wishing to switch should have already completed the state registration process to become effective in the state or states in which the adviser is registering.

It was estimated by this time that 3,200 firms would have made the switch to state regulation. However, spokesman John Nester for the SEC announced that as of April 5, a little more than 1,900 firms claimed that they were no longer eligible for SEC registration and needed to make the switch.
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As a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed on July 21, 2010, there have been significant reforms applicable to non-US advisers conducting business in the United States, including new registration requirements under the Advisers Act (the “Act”).

Non-U.S. advisers may need to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in order to conduct future business within the United States. A non-U.S. adviser is defined in the Advisers Act as an investment adviser that:

  • Has no place of business in the United States;
  • Has a total of less than 15 U.S. clients and investors in private funds;
  • Has less than $25 million in assets under management associated with the U.S. clients and investors; and
  • Does not hold itself out generally as a U.S. investment adviser.

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As we first reported on this blog site in September, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) held a forum, through its Investment Adviser subcommittee, to discuss transition issues for Mid-Sized Advisers under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. As we approach the annual December moratorium on new registrations and renewals, it seems appropriate to review and comment on some of NASAA’s suggestions.

The first step that any Mid-Sized Adviser should take should be to contact his or her state regulatory agency to determine whether it has adopted special rules, forms, or timetables for use. However, the NASAA committee generally provided the following procedure that its state members intended to follow:
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