Today, we offer our “Friday List,” an occasional feature summarizing a topic significant to investment management professionals interested in regulatory issues. Our Friday Lists are an expanded “Our Take” on a particular subject, offering our unique (and sometimes controversial) perspective on an industry topic.
Last month, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said that SEC no-action letters and other staff statements “are nonbinding and create no enforceable legal rights or obligations.” He instructed the SEC staffs to “review whether prior staff statements and staff documents should be modified, rescinded or supplemented in light of market or other developments.” More recently the Director of the Division of Investment Management, Dalia Blass, said that her division is reviewing and assessing prior staff statements. Both Mr. Clayton and Ms. Blass invited engagement and input from the public. With that invitation, we offer ten topics that the Division of Investment Management should reconsider as it assesses its staff positions:
10 Topics the Division of Investment Management Should Reconsider
- Custody: The custody rule and the reams of staff FAQs have only confused the industry and ensured massive inadvertent noncompliance. If the staff only tackles one problem, this is it.
- Valuation: Please offer clear guidance on the fair valuation of securities that are not publicly traded. The current regime is too subjective, relying on accounting interpretations and shifting market information.
- Proxy Voting: Firms spend significant resources complying with the proxy voting recordkeeping and supervision requirements. Do these rules really protect clients and shareholders?
- Private Funds: Restricting private funds to 100 holders or qualified purchasers is overly restrictive. The staff should also reconsider the definition of “accredited investor.”
- Leverage: With the advent of derivatives and other forms of innovative investment products, the staff should modernize its positions on permitted leverage.
- Advertising: The staff has not materially changed the adviser advertising rules in 30 years. The new media world requires some new rules.
- Code of Ethics: A significant percentage of compliance time and resources is spent on personal securities transaction compliance. The staff should consider other less onerous schemes to prevent and punish unlawful personal trading.
- Affiliate Transactions: Scholars have written entire treatises on the definition of “affiliate transaction” under the Investment Company Act. It may be the most confusing definition in the securities laws.
- Disclosure: Few retail investors read prospectuses or Form ADV. One way to make clearer and more readable documents is too exempt issuers from securities law liability.
- Wrap Programs: The SEC has brought dozens of actions against wrap programs. We would recommend that the staff adopt some definitive rules that the industry could follow.