In case you missed it: late last month, the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (“ICVCM”) launched its Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) and Program-level Assessment Framework (Framework). With the publication of these new standards (developed with the input of hundreds of stakeholders in the voluntary carbon markets), we now have a set of fundamental principles for high-quality credits that create a verifiable climate impact, and a framework for determining whether carbon credit programs are eligible to label themselves as being in compliance with the CCPs.Read More
For over twenty months, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has steadily announced settled orders against broker-dealers and investment advisers for failure to retain business-related communication. On 8 August 2023, the SEC released another round of settled orders with 11 firms for violation of Exchange Act Rule 17a-4 for failing to retain off-channel business-related communication. One dually registered broker-dealer and investment adviser was also charged with violating recordkeeping provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The content of the orders, and the firms involved, show the SEC’s attention may be shifting from wide-spread violations at large institutions to more limited compliance failures at firms of differing sizes. The assessed penalties, although still considerable, are consistent with this shift.Read More
In May 2020, the Division of Investment Management Staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission published a Statement withdrawing a November 2010 letter issued to Boulder Total Return Fund, relating to the Maryland Control Share Acquisition Act (MCSAA), which had long been an impediment to closed-end funds opting in to state statutes that permit corporations to restrict certain stockholders’ ability to vote “control shares” (shares of a corporation which, when aggregated with all shares of such corporation owned by an acquiring person, exceed certain ownership thresholds). Following the May 2020 Staff Statement, a number of closed-end funds opted in to state control share statutes or adopted by-law provisions with similar impact. Further developments since then include:Read More
At the Conference On Emerging Trends In Asset Management sponsored by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and held 19 May 2023, Chair Gary Gensler, and Director of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management, William Birdthistle, called for greater discourse with industry participants and highlighted the strengths of recent rulemaking activities of the SEC.
Mr. Birdthistle kicked off the conference by referring to funds and investment advisers as “critical agents” in the investment management industry and in advancing the SEC’s mission. He also acknowledged the need for the SEC and its staff to be open to different opinions. He did not, however, indicate how such different views have been—or would be—addressed in the rulemaking process or otherwise.Read More
In November 2022, The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler stated that the SEC was only just getting started in its efforts to ensure firms were properly retaining business-related communication occurring over off-channel mediums. Two settled orders against two prominent broker-dealers released 11 May 2023 emphasize that point.
As with the SEC’s December 2021 and September 2022 settlements with major Wall Street firms, the 11 May 2023 settlements find violations of the record keeping requirements of Exchange Act Rule 17a-4 based on the firms’ failures to retain off-channel business-related communication. In the orders, which closely track the September 2022 orders, the SEC emphasized that the broker-dealers engaged in “pervasive off-channel communication” that occurred at all firm levels. The SEC continued to identify discussions about clients, client meetings, investment strategy, and communication regarding market color, trends, and events as “concerning” the broker-dealers’ respective businesses.
The May 2023 and September 2022 orders diverge with the discussion of cooperation. The SEC emphasizes in the recent orders that it considered the broker-dealers’ self-reporting, immediate remedial action, and cooperation with the SEC’s ensuing investigation when assessing penalties. Ultimately, the SEC ordered penalties of US$15 million and US$7.5 million, a fraction of the US$50 to US$125 million penalty range assessed in most prior similar orders.
It is clear the SEC’s investigatory efforts into record retention are in full swing. In fact, since the Fall of 2022, a myriad of firms have publicly announced that they are under investigation by the SEC in connection with potential record retention issues. It is likely additional formal charges are on the horizon.
In our last post, we suggested that managed accounts of whatever structure have become more and more popular among institutional investors. Our list included advantages of managed accounts often seen in print or discussed among panel participants in seminars. We did not, however, itemize all of the incentives motivating many institutional investors to prefer managed accounts over commingled funds. We’ll do so now to introduce and illuminate the reasons why and how conflicts of interest are created when fund managers manage separate client accounts alongside commingled funds. And, hopefully, give you some takeaways when managing your own investment management business.Read More
Over the last 20 years, managed accounts have become increasingly popular. A managed account is a portfolio of securities managed by a single manager on behalf of a single investor. These special arrangements are especially popular among institutional investor seeking:
- More control over investment decisions (positive or negative control; veto rights);
- Access to institutional quality investment managers;
- Direct ownership of underlying assets;
- Better fee terms;
- Longer investment horizons; and
- Other considerations, such as Sharia compliance, special portfolio “tilts” such as ESG.
On 24 January 2023, the ECON Committee of the EU Parliament adopted its report on proposed amendments to the EU’s main fund rules, AIFMD and the UCITS Directive, ahead of trilogue negotiations with the EU Council and Commission set to begin in March. When agreed, the revised Directives are expected to come into force in 2025 in light of the 24 months transposition period. Notable proposals include:Read More
On 20 February 2023, the FCA published a discussion paper (DP23/2) on improving the UK asset management regime. Key themes include:
Alignment with Relevant International Standards
The FCA does not want to create unnecessary complexity for firms operating in multiple jurisdictions. It aims to develop the regime to interact effectively with international requirements, while promoting the international competitiveness of the UK economy.Read More