Articles Tagged with Registration

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

On December 13, 2016, the Arizona Court of Appeals (“Court of Appeals”) affirmed an Arizona Superior Court’s decision finding that Patrick Shudak, an investment adviser, violated the Arizona Securities Act by acting as an unregistered securities salesperson or dealer in connection with the sale of interests in a real estate venture.

From January 2008 through July 2009, Shudak sold membership units in a company known as Parker Skylar & Associates, LLC (PSA).  Neither Shudak nor PSA was registered as a securities salesperson or dealer under the Arizona Securities Act.  Shudak stated in PSA’s promotional materials that the money invested in PSA would “be used to purchase and develop real property.”  In reality, however, Shudak placed the money that investors put into PSA into his personal account, the personal accounts of others such as his girlfriend, and business accounts of other business that Shudak owned or had some affiliation with.

In December 2009, investors started to grow worried when Shudak stopped returning phone calls and replying to the investors’ demands for information.  As a result, Shudak was obligated to stop serving as PSA manager and to give up his PSA membership.  He subsequently filed for bankruptcy in April 2010.

On December 1, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it had filed a complaint for injunctive and other relief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Onix Capital LLC (“Onix Capital”), an asset management company, and its owner, a Chilean national by the name of Alberto Chang-Rajii (“Chang”).  The complaint alleges that Onix Capital and Chang “violated the federal securities laws by fraudulently raising approximately $7.4 million from investors based on material misrepresentations regarding the investments offered, the use of the funds raised, and the background and financial success of Chang himself.”

Onix Capital was not an SEC-registered adviser, nor was Chang registered as an investment adviser or broker-dealer.  However, the SEC alleged that Onix Capital and Chang violated the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”).  Specifically, the SEC alleged that Chang, “for compensation, engaged in the business of advising… investors… as to the value of securities or as to the advisability of investing in, purchasing, or selling securities,” and therefore met the definition of an “investment adviser” subject to the anti-fraud provisions of the Advisers Act. 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 October 17, 2016, FINRA published Regulatory Notice 16-37 setting an effective date for implementation of its new Capital Acquisition Broker (“CAB”) rules (“CAB Rules”).  The CAB Rules, which codify the creation and regulation of a new FINRA Membership category designed for broker/dealers that restrict their activities to certain designated corporate finance transactions, are discussed in greater detail in a recent Parker MacIntyre blog post (see “SEC Approves FINRA’s Capital Acquisition Broker Rules (“CAB Rules”)”).  Continue reading

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently approved a proposed Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) rule change which will require associated persons responsible for the design, development, and significant modification of algorithmic trading strategies, or the supervision of such activities, to register as Securities Traders. This development highlights the increasing regulatory and enforcement focus FINRA & the SEC are placing on the use of trading algorithms in the financial services industry.

Currently, associated persons are required to register as Securities Traders if they are engaged in proprietary trading, the execution of transactions on an agency basis, or the direct supervision of such activities with respect to off-exchange transactions in equity, preferred or convertible debt securities. FINRA is expanding this requirement to include associated persons who are: 1) primarily responsible for the design, development or significant modification of algorithmic trading strategies; or 2) responsible for the day to-day supervision or direction of such activities.

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The Broker-Dealer section of the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) recently sent out a notice of request for comment on a proposed uniform state model rule (“Model Rule”) that would exempt merger and acquisition brokers (“M&A Brokers”) from state securities registration if certain requirements were met. While NASAA’s proposed Model Rule is similar to the recent SEC No-Action letter concerning M&A Brokers and the exemption for M&A Brokers provided by HR 37, there are some notable differences. Comments on the Model Rule must be submitted to NASAA by February 16, 2015.

First, this post will lay out the three current proposals by SEC staff, Congress, and NASAA to create an M&A Broker registration exemption. Second, a comparison between all three will be made in order to highlight how each body plans to regulate and define the scope of the exemption for M&A Brokers. Each comparison will be broken up into key aspects of each proposal’s efforts to create an exemption for M&A Brokers. Third, this post will emphasize the need to create an exemption, along with M&A Brokers, that will encompass other important unregistered actors: Private Placement Brokers.
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In 2005, an American Bar Association task force published an exhaustively researched report that highlighted a huge “gray market” of unregistered brokerage activity, conducted by people that sometimes refer to themselves as “finders,” that is critical to the development of early stage companies, but operating in technical violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“ABA Report”). Other than occasional enforcement actions against bad actors, the SEC did little to address this problem until early 2014, when it issued a No-Action letter which blessed certain restricted activities of merger and acquisition brokers (“M&A Brokers”). The SEC’s approach to other private placement brokers has been to restrict their activities even further. Compare Paul Anka, SEC No-Action Letter (July 24, 1991) (granting legal “finder” status) with Brumberg, Mackey & Wall, PLC., SEC No-Action Letter (May 17, 2010) (restricting “finder” status). Courts have not always agreed with the SEC. See SEC v. Kramer, 778 F.Supp.2d 1320 (M.D. Fla. 2011) (proposing a non-exhaustive six-factor test for registration).

On January 6th, the first day of the 114th Congress’s new session, the House of Representatives considered H.R. 37. This bill proposes again multiple pieces of legislation that passed the House in the previous congress but were not taken up by the Senate. The bill has now been remanded to the House Committee process. H.R. 37 contains eleven separate items which would affect the current financial regulatory landscape. One of the proposed provisions responds to concerns about financial intermediaries such as finders that participate in mergers and acquisitions. This blog post advocates that Congress, while considering legalization of M&A Brokers, should also legalize a limited class of private placement brokers.
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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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With an overwhelming majority, 390 to 23, the House of Representatives passed another crowdfunding bill on March 9, 2012. The House had previously passed a similar bill in November 2011 called the “Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act” which we previously discussed in a blog, New “Invest Georgia Exemption” Helps Small Businesses Raise Capital. That Republican bill stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate, as did another bill related to crowdfunding requirements which included lower investment amounts and the requirement to use a “crowdfunding intermediary.” The Senate currently has three crowdfunding bills before it, although none of the bills have yet to move out of committee. The Senate Banking Committee did hold another hearing on the topic of crowdfunding earlier this week.

The bill that passed most recently in the House was originally introduced by Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and was rolled into a broader package called the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS), which included six bills bundled together. Rep. McHenry stated, “Crowdfunding is a key component of the JOBS Act. Economists predict the legislation will lead to a ten percent increase in new business startups, helping to create at least 170,000 jobs in the next five years. The bill is critical in getting our economy back on the right track.”
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