Articles Tagged with Mid-Sized Advisers

The State of Wyoming recently enacted a statute that requires most investment advisers doing business in the state, and investment adviser representatives of those advisers, to register.  The law subjects the state law registrants to examination in Wyoming by the Secretary of State. Investment advisers who do not have a place of business in Wyoming but have had more than five Wyoming clients during the preceding twelve months are also required to register.  Solicitors for state-registered advisers will be required to register but are exempt from the examination requirements.

As a result of this new statute, investment advisers who are eligible for registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) because they manage more than $25 million in assets are now prohibited from registering with the SEC unless they also manage in excess of $100 million. The result is that “mid-sized advisers,” or advisers that register between $25 million and $100 million, are no longer required to register with the SEC. Continue reading

Two states have created a time-table to help mid-sized firms make the switch from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) supervision to state regulated supervision. As a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection (Dodd-Frank) Act, those investment advisers with $100 million or less but more than $25 million in assets under management will be required to register with the state or states in which they do business instead of the SEC. We have already discussed the switch in Mid-Sized Advisers Should Have Already Commenced Transition. Both Iowa and Missouri are helping mid-sized firms in their state by creating time-tables and providing guidance for the transition.
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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 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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With the increase in authority granted by the Dodd-Frank Act to state regulators over registered investment advisers, there has been a noticeable uptick in the number and intensity of state examinations of IA firms. In a national survey coordinated by NASAA, and released this fall, 40 state RIA examiners were found to have uncovered 3,543 violations in examinations of 825 firms during the first half of this year, an average of over 4 violations per firm. The survey found that registration and books and records violations predominated, with violations related to unethical practices and supervision not far behind.

Well over half of the firms examined were cited for registration violations, and 45% for books and record violations. The examinations also found significant numbers of violations in the areas of advertising, compliance with privacy rules, financial disclosure, fees charged and custody of funds.
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Two Parker MacIntyre attorneys — Bob Terry and Steve Parker — attended forums held this week by the Investment Adviser Section of the North American Securities Administrators Association, and by the NASAA members of the Joint NASAA/FINRA CRD/IARD Steering Committee, at the NASAA Annual Conference in Wichita, Kansas. The forums’ panelists included Melanie Senter Lubin, Securities Administrator for the State of Maryland, NASAA General Counsel Joseph Brady, Michigan Securities Director Linda Cena, and other Section and Committee members. Bob Terry, Counsel to Parker MacIntyre, served as Vice Chair of the CRD/IARD Committee for over three years until he left the office of the Georgia Secretary of State in January of 2011.

The hottest topics of both forums were details relating to transitioning to state registration of mid-sized advisers, as required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank’) and implementing regulations.

At least 20 states to date have conducted training seminars to investment advisers seeking information about switching to state registration and what to expect from becoming state-registered. NASAA has provided training materials and logistical support to securities administrators in those states. The goal is to introduce the prospective registrants to state-specific issues that may affect their registration process or their ongoing operations, particularly in the areas of regulation that may differ slightly or even significantly from the SEC rule or practice that the adviser to which the adviser is accustomed.
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Now that the effective date of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) has arrived and the SEC has adopted rules implementing changes to the investment adviser registration regime, the landscape can be relatively confusing. For investment advisers currently registered either with the state in which it maintains its principal office or with the SEC, the new rules are fairly easy to apply, particularly in light of the transition rules adopted on June 22, 2011 by the SEC as explained in Parker MacIntyre’s previous post. For others, however, the application of the new rules will prove more complicated, particularly for those advisers whose principal office and place of business are in states that have unusual registration or regulatory provisions.

Take, for example, Wyoming. Since that state does not provide for investment adviser registration, it has always been somewhat of an anomaly, even before Dodd-Frank. Section 203A(a)(1) of the Investment Advisers Act only prohibits registration with the SEC of investment advisers who have assets under management of less than $25 million and are “regulated or required to be regulated as an investment adviser in the State in which it maintains its principal office and place of business.” Wyoming-based advisers must therefore register with the SEC regardless of their assets under management, unless otherwise exempt from registration under the Investment Advisers Act or a private adviser able to rely upon the transition rule provided in 203-1(e).
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On June 22, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted new rules and rule amendments under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to implement provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Among other things, the rules, as adopted, provided transitional provisions for investment advisers required to switch from SEC to state registration because they fail to meet the new requirement of $100 million in assets under management, require advisers to hedge funds and other private funds to register with the SEC, require reporting by certain exempt investment advisers, and make substantial changes to the Form ADV.

The final rule relating to transition differed somewhat from the rule originally proposed by the SEC. The final rule requires that any “mid-sized” registrant with the SEC (defined as any firm with between $25 million and $100 million under management) that is registered as of July 21, 2011 (Dodd-Frank’s effective date) must remain registered with the SEC through the transition. New applicants that meet the definition of mid-sized advisers and who seek to apply between January 1, 2011 and July 21, 2011 can apply either with the SEC or the state or states in which it must register.
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Although the US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) has publicly stated that the July 21, 2011 deadline for “Mid-Sized Investment Advisers” to register with the States will likely be moved, as of yet there is no rule formally postponing the deadline. The same looming deadline applies to hedge funds required to register for the first time.

The switch delay is thought to have been driven primarily by Investment Advisor Registration Depository (IARD) programming delays and the logistical issue of collecting asset under management data from all firms in order to qualify them for the switch. Some advisers, out of caution, are registering dually with the SEC and the states so as to cover their bases; they plan on de-registering with the SEC at the appropriate time.

The deadline may be formally moved at the upcoming June 22 SEC meeting, whose agenda identifies consideration of adoptions of new rules and amendments to implement Dodd-Frank; considering Investment Adviser Act exemption rules for venture capital funds and advisers with assets under management of less than $150 million; and considering the proposed rule defining “family offices” that will be excluded from the definition of an investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act.

According to a recent letter addressed to the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) from Robert Plaze, Associate Director for Regulation of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management, a switch in regulators for advisers who manage between $25 million and $100 million in assets that was supposed to start occurring this summer may now be extended to the first quarter of 2012. The reason is that regulators need until the end of 2011 to reprogram a national registration database for advisers.

Advisers are still waiting for the SEC to adopt the proposed rules that will make the regulatory transition official. The extension of the deadline also must be considered in a rule-making procedure by the SEC.

Parker MacIntyre provides legal and compliance services to investment advisers, broker-dealers, registered representatives, hedge funds and issuers of securities, among others. Our regulatory practice group assists financial service providers with the complex issues that arise in the course of their businesses, including compliance with federal and state laws and rules.