Articles Tagged with Mutual Funds

On May 10, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an Order Instituting Administrative and Cease-and-Desist Proceedings (“Order”) against Barclays Capital Inc. (“Barclays Capital”).  The Order alleges that Barclays Capital, in its capacity as a dually-registered investment adviser and broker-dealer, overcharged advisory clients in the course of its wealth and investment management business.  In conjunction with the Order, Barclays Capital submitted an Offer of Settlement where it agreed to pay about $97 million, which includes disgorgement and a penalty.

According to the SEC’s Order, Barclays Capital was the adviser and fiduciary to its advisory clients for two wrap fee programs: the Select Advisors Program and the Accommodation Manager Program, both of which were launched in September 2010.  Starting in September 2010 and ending around the close of 2014, Barclays Capital assured Select Advisors Program clients in both client agreements and in its brochure that “Barclays Capital performed initial due diligence and ongoing monitoring of third-party managers it recommended to manage its clients’ assets using specific investment strategies.”  Likewise, beginning in May 2011 and ending in March 2013, Barclays Capital assured Accommodation Manager Program clients that it conducted limited due diligence and monitoring of Accommodation Manager Program strategies. Continue reading

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently published guidance on the characterization of mutual fund fees, specifically 12b-1 distribution fees and sub-accounting fees, as part of their ongoing Distribution-in-Guise Initiative. Pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the Investment Company Act of 1940, payments made by mutual funds (“funds”), to financial intermediaries from fund assets for the distribution of fund shares must be paid pursuant to a Rule 12b-1 plan that has been approved and adopted by the fund’s shareholders and Board of Directors (“Board”). In recent years the SEC has noticed that there are various fees being paid to intermediaries, in addition to distribution fees, that are being characterized as non-distribution-related fees and are not being paid pursuant to a Rule 12b-1 plan. Those fees include sub-transfer agent fees, administrative sub-accounting fees, and other shareholder servicing fees (collectively “sub-accounting fees”).

While these sub-accounting fees may in some cases be valid non-distribution-related fees, if they directly or indirectly compensate at all for any distribution-related activities, they are improperly labeled. Because of the importance of this issue given that fund fees directly impact investor returns and inherently involve conflicts of interest, the SEC has published guidance to assist funds in ensuring that distribution-related fees are being properly labeled and disclosed in a Rule 12b-1 plan as required. This potential problem was brought to the SEC’s attention after a recent sweep examination of various market participants including mutual funds, investment advisers, transfer agents, and broker-dealers.

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