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The Friday List: 10 Things We Learned During the Fall 2019 Investment Management Conferences

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.

As we approach the end of the year, we can reflect on what we learned at the panoply of investment management conferences we attended since June.  CCS professionals attended most of the major industry conferences and compared notes.  As we talked, we concluded that some of the same themes arose from the conferences’ agendas and speakers.  We thought our clients and friends might benefit from our meta-observations.

10 Things We Learned During the Fall 2019 Investment Management Conferences

  1. Proxy Voting. Nobody is exactly sure how to supervise proxy voting firms.
  2. Cybersecurity. The authorities are warning about targeted cybersecurity attacks, not just generalized cyber threats.
  3. RIA Advertising. Everybody likes the new RIA advertising rule, but many are concerned about heightened enforcement.
  4. Expense Transparency. The Investment Management Division is focused on fee and expense transparency especially as advertised fund expenses approach zero.
  5. Portfolio Management. OCIE will investigate whether portfolio management practices deviate from disclosures made to clients and investors.
  6. Custody. Private fund firms still do not comply with the custody rule either because they fail to delivery financials on time or because they fail to engage a PCAOB firm.
  7. Form CRS. Everybody is trying to make Form CRS as marketing-friendly as possible while including all required information.
  8. AML. There is over-reliance on clearing firms to perform anti-money laundering surveillance.
  9. Technology. Technology firms are selling a variety of solutions to automate advisers’ back and middle offices.
  10. ETFs. Industry players expect a proliferation of active ETF products in the wake of the proposed rule.

The Friday List: 10 Things We Learned During the Spring 2019 Investment Management Conferences

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. 

As we approach the summer months, the spring 2019 conference season draws to a close.  CCS professionals attended most of the major industry conferences and compared notes.  As we talked, we saw some major themes from all of the conferences.  We thought our clients and friends might benefit from our meta-observations. 

10 Things We Learned During the Spring 2019 Investment Management Conferences

  1. Everybody is afraid of a cyber-breach.  Every conference we attended included sessions about cyber threats and cybersecurity counter-measures.
  2. Private equity is trying to rationalize operations.  Now that PE has become part of the institutional investing landscape, GPs are searching for ways to build scale. 
  3. Compliance officers don’t have the resources to get everything done.  Boards, investors, and the regulators continue to put more work on the CCO’s desk, but senior management doesn’t always meet the increased workload with more resources. 
  4. Technology is the future.  Many firms are racing to replace all aspects of middle and back office operations with technology solutions that enhance and replace human resources. 
  5. Everybody wants ESG.  The term “ESG” was likely used by more people at more conferences than any other term.    
  6. Nobody knows exactly how non-transparent ETFs will affect the product lineup.  Some say they’re a fad.  Some say they’re a complement to existing products.  Some say they don’t make sense.  Some say they will replace all other forms of ETFs.
  7. The hot new asset classes include private credit, cryptocurrency, and cannabis.  Private credit leads with the most products, but people are really excited about cryptocurrency.
  8. The industry is consolidating.  Almost everybody predicts massive industry consolidation as the bigs absorb the smalls, and private equity provides the liquidity.
  9. Nobody knows where the fiduciary rule is going.  Even the SEC has been less than clear about its next step especially with the DoL and the states jumping in (again).
  10. The SEC is in good hands.  We saw many speeches by many SEC leaders.  Despite the political chaos in Washington, the SEC continues to operate with a steady hand through a dedicated staff.  They provided insight on priorities and rulemaking and explained their rationale on enforcement decisions.