Articles Tagged with Investment Adviser

On August 14, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an Order Instituting Administrative and Cease and Desist Proceedings (“Order”) against Coachman Energy Partners, LLC (“Coachman”), an investment adviser, and its owner, Randall D. Kenworthy (“Kenworthy”).  According to the SEC’s Order, Coachman “failed to adequately disclose its methodology for calculating the management fees and management-related expenses it charged” to four oil and gas funds it managed.  Coachman and Kenworthy submitted offers of settlement in conjunction with the Order.

The SEC found that from 2011 to 2014, Coachman acted as investment adviser to four funds specializing in oil and gas operations.  Each fund was charged an annual management fee which made up 2 to 2.5% of the total capital contributions given to each fund as of the last day of the year.  According to the SEC, however, Coachman’s offering materials and Forms ADV did not adequately disclose that the management fees were based upon year-end contributions.  Rather, these documents implied that management fees and expenses were based upon “the average amount of capital contributions under management during the course of the year.”  Therefore, the SEC alleged that Coachman and Kenworthy overbilled investors in the amount of $1,128,916.

The SEC also alleged that between 2013 and 2014, Coachman billed two of the funds management expenses based upon 1.5% of the total capital contributions given to these funds as of the last day of the year.  However, the offering materials for these funds allegedly did not sufficiently inform investors that the funds would be obligated to pay Coachman for management expenses based on year-end capital contributions.  Rather, these materials supposedly informed investors that management expenses were calculated using the average number of capital contributions under management for the whole year.  The SEC alleges that this resulted in Coachman and Kenworthy overbilled clients in the amount of $449,294.

On August 23, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado against Sonya D. Camarco (“Camarco”), an investment adviser.  The complaint alleges that Camarco “misappropriated over $2.8 million in investor funds from her clients and customers.”  The complaint also alleges that Camarco used these funds to pay a variety of personal expenses, including credit card bills and mortgages.

As stated in the SEC’s complaint, Camarco was a registered representative and investment adviser representative of LPL Financial LLC (“LPL”) from February 2004 through August 2017.  Under LPL’s policies, Camarco was not allowed to take money from client accounts unless the clients given her “specific and express” authority to do so.  However, the SEC’s complaint alleges that in July 2017, LPL realized that Camarco had been part of numerous suspicious transactions involving her clients’ accounts from 2004 through 2017. Continue reading

On August 22, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against Jeremy Drake (“Drake”), an investment adviser.  The complaint alleges that Drake lied to two clients, a high-profile professional athlete and his wife, regarding their annual management fees.  The complaint also alleges that Drake used extensive measures to back up his deception, including sending “false and misleading emails” and “a number of fabricated documents.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, Drake’s alleged misconduct occurred when he was an investment adviser representative of HCR Wealth Advisers (“HCR”), a Los Angeles-based registered investment adviser.  In September 2009, the clients entered into an “Investment Advisory Agreement” with HCR.  The agreement, which was signed by Drake on behalf of HCR, provided that the clients would pay an annual management fee of 1% of the clients’ assets under management.  Evidence shows that the clients paid a 1% management fee for the entire period when they were clients of HCR. Continue reading

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

The F-Squared Investments matter continues to have far-reaching consequences for those investment advisers who used F-Squared’s falsely inflated and improperly labeled backtested performance results in advertisements. As discussed previously, in November of 2015 Virtus Investment Advisers was fined $16.5 million for including the false and misleading performance results in its own advertisements and filings with the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”). More recently, the SEC charged Cantella & Co. (“Cantella”), a Boston-based investment adviser that licensed F-Squared’s Alpha Sector strategy, with securities violations for employing F-Squared’s false track record in its marketing materials.

F-Squared is an investment adviser that creates and markets index products using exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”). It sub-licenses these indexes to various unaffiliated investment advisers who manage assets pursuant to those indexes. In 2014 F-Squared admitted in a settled SEC administrative proceeding that it had materially misrepresented the performance results of its largest ETF strategy, AlphaSector, by labeling these results as actual results from a seven-year period when they were in fact hypothetical results derived through backtesting. In addition, F-Squared claimed that the strategy had outperformed the S&P 500 Index from 2001 to 2008 when in fact the hypothetical data contained a calculation error that falsely inflated results by 350 percent. F-Squared agreed to pay disgorgement of $30 million and a penalty of $5 million to settle the claim.

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It is expected that more brokers will leave their wirehouse firms in the coming year. Numerous independent firms, Schwab Advisor Services, TD Ameritrade Institutional, Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services and Diamond Consultants LLC, saw an increase in “breakaway brokers” joining them in 2011. As a result of these breakaway brokers, Cerulli Associates Inc. has predicted in a recent report that the wirehouses’ market share of assets will drop from an estimated 43% last year to 35% in 2013.

The report also states that the big firms no longer seem to care as much about the market share they possess but rather seem intent on retaining their top advisers.
This trend in increasing breakaways seems to be a result of brokers who have been waiting for production requirements in earlier recruitment and retention deals to be fulfilled this year. Brokers may also be growing frustrated with increasing compliance demands, as well as with the bureaucracy and managements of their firms. The president of Diamond Consultants LLC, Mindy Diamond, agrees that there will be more breakaways in 2012 and states, “and at the same time, firms in the independent space have come up with a lot of solutions for advisers.”
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Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released a report last month comparing the cost of the various possible options of different agencies examining investment advisers. This report was conducted as a follow-up to a study released by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in January 2011, which created these scenarios based on Section 914 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The three possible options would be:

  • Authorizing the SEC to conduct the examinations and fund them by collecting user fees;
  • Authorize a new self-regulatory organization (SRO) to examine the advisers; or
  • Authorize the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to examine the advisers

The economic analysis of the options was based on public research along with more than 40 in-depth interviews with various investment advisory firms. The SEC and FINRA were not interviewed or consulted in this analysis. The report concluded that the creation of enhanced SEC capabilities would cost $240-$270 million, while setting FINRA up as the investment adviser SRO would cost $550-$610 million, and creating a new SRO would cost $610-$670 million. These estimates were developed by projecting setup costs, ongoing mandate costs, and the cost associated with SEC oversight of an SRO.
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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has implemented a new program — called the Aberrational Performance Inquiry (API) — that has resulted in enforcement proceedings against three hedge funds for overstating material aspects of their business. API looks to find statements made by funds relating to its investment strategy, performance or size, and compares those claims to market data using proprietary analytical processes. In a statement, the SEC stated that API is being used to find the same type of misleading information from registered investment advisers, not just hedge funds.

“We’re using risk analytics and unconventional methods to help achieve the holy grail of securities law enforcement — earlier detection and prevention,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, according to an SEC enforcement release. Robert Kaplan and Bruce Karpati, Co-Chiefs of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit, added, “The extraordinary returns reported by these advisers and portfolio managers were, in most cases, too good to be true. In other cases, outlier returns were a telltale sign that something else was amiss.”
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On October 13, 2011 the Georgia Secretary of State published proposed rules under the Georgia Uniform Securities Act of 2008 (“the 2008 Act”). Among the proposed rules are twenty (20) rules governing investment advisers and investment adviser representatives.

Although many of the proposed rules are consistent with the applicable rules under the prior Georgia Securities Act of 1973, quite a few of the proposed rules are new, and are designed to respond to the changing business and regulatory environment, including passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Firms currently registered in Georgia should pay careful attention to the regulatory changes. In addition, formerly SEC-registered advisers that are switching to Georgia registration will find the Georgia regulatory landscape, under both the old rules and the new ones, if adopted, to be quite different than what they are accustomed to.
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The Virginia State Corporation Commission (Securities and Retail Franchising Division) yesterday adopted a policy statement providing guidance to advisers to private funds in light of the June 22, 2011 adoption of final rules adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Specifically, the Virginia statement recognizes and addresses the “regulatory gap” created by the SEC Rule 203-1(e), which grants an extension to March 30 2012 for private advisers formerly exempt from registration under Investment Adviser Act Section 203(b)(3), which was repealed by Dodd-Frank, to register with the SEC.

As a consequence of Dodd-Frank, Virginia’s Rule 21 VAC 5-80-210A.7, which excludes from the definition of “investment advisers” certain advisers exempt under Section 203(b)(3) of the Investment Adviser Act, becomes a nullity on July 21, 2011. In the absence of the policy statement, the effect of this would be to require private advisers subject to Virginia registration requirements, and that have no other basis for exemption, to register in Virginia as investment advisers by July 22, 2011.
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