SEC Adopts Rules to Modernize Information Reported by Funds, Require Liquidity Risk Management Programs, and Permit Swing Pricing


On October 13, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted rules to implement modern reporting and disclosure requirements for registered investment companies and open‑end funds. Press Release.

FINRA and SEC Announce Tick Size Pilot Program


On October 3, 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”)’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy issued an Investor Alert announcing a new National Market System (NMS) Plan that will implement a Tick Size Pilot Program (the “Pilot”) that will widen the minimum quoting and trading increment – sometimes called the “tick size” – for some small capitalization stocks. The goal of the Pilot is to study the effect of tick size on liquidity and trading of small capitalization stocks.

The Pilot has been implemented pursuant to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act which, among other things, directed the SEC to conduct a study and report to Congress on how decimalization affected the number of initial public offerings, and the liquidity and trading of securities of smaller capitalization companies.

Under the Pilot, the tick size will be widened from a penny ($0.01) to a nickel ($0.05) for specified securities listed on national securities exchanges (“Pilot Securities”). For some Pilot Securities, only quoting will need to occur in $0.05 increments, while for others, both quoting and trading generally will need to occur in increments of a nickel.

The Pilot will include a specified subset of the exchange-listed stocks of companies that have $3 billion or less in market capitalization, an average daily trading volume of one million shares or less and a volume-weighted average price of at least $2.00 for every trading day. There will be a control group of approximately 1,400 securities and three test groups, each with approximately 400 securities selected by a stratified sampling.

The Plot will run for a two-year period that will commence on October 3, 2016.

The data collected from the Pilot will be used by the SEC, national securities exchanges and FINRA to assess whether wider tick sizes enhance the market quality of these stocks for the benefit of issuers and investors—such as less volatility and increased liquidity.


SEC Adopts Rules for Enhanced Regulatory Framework for Securities Clearing Agencies

On September 28, 2016 the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) voted to adopt new rules to establish “enhanced standards for the operation and governance of securities clearing agencies that are deemed systematically important or that are involved in complex transactions, such as security-based swaps.” In addition, the SEC has proposed to apply these new standards to additional categories of securities clearing agencies, including all SEC-registered central counterparties. The rules will become effective sixty days after their publication in the Federal Register. Press release.

SEC Adopts Amendments Providing Authorities Access to Data Obtained by Security-Based Swap Data Repositories


On August 29, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission amended a rule designed to provide access for regulators to data in the security-based swap market.  The amendments were enacted to make the sharing of information more secure and efficient. Press release,

SEC Adopts Rules to Enhance Information Reported by Investment Advisers


On August 25, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted amendments to rules and forms designed to improve disclosures provided by investment advisers to investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Press release.

SEC Seeks Public Comment on Disclosure Requirements Relating to Management, Security Holders and Corporate Governance Matters


On August 25, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission requested “public comment on disclosure requirements in Subpart 400 of Regulation S-K, including those relating to management, certain security holders, and corporate governance matters.” Press release.

SEC Adopts Amendments to Form ADV


On August 25,  2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted amendments to Form ADV that are designed to provide additional information regarding advisers, including information about their separately managed account business, incorporate a method for private fund adviser entities operating a single advisory business to register using a single Form ADV, and make clarifying, technical and other amendments to certain Form ADV items and instructions. The SEC also adopted amendments to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 books and records rule.

In particular, the amendments to Part 1A of Form ADV are intended to provide a more efficient method for the registration on one Form ADV of multiple private fund adviser entities operating a single advisory business (“umbrella registration”). Although under existing staff guidance a large number of advisers have already been making umbrella registration filings, the method outlined in the staff guidance for filing an umbrella registration was limited by the fact that the form was designed for a single legal entity. These amendments are intended to eliminate confusion for filers and the public. Press release.

New Jersey Appellate Court Clarifies Definition of Compensation under Advisers Act


On August 12, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the decision of the District Court of New Jersey and held in United States v. Everett C. Miller that the defendant was an “investment adviser” within the meaning of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”), notwithstanding defendant’s arguments that he did receive “compensation” and was not engaged “in the business” of acting as an investment adviser.

The Advisers Act does not explicitly define “compensation” or what constitutes being engaged “in the business.”  Consequently, the Court of Appeals based its decision on a 1987 Release issued by the Staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (Investment Advisers Release No. 1092) which states, in part: “The Staff considers a person to be ‘in the business’ of providing advice if the person . . . holds himself out as an investment adviser or as one who provides investment advice.” In reaching its decision that the defendant provided advice for “compensation,” the Court recognized that the Advisers Act also does not define “compensation.”  The Court again cited the SEC Release which defines compensation as “any economic benefit, whether in the form of an advisory fee or some other fee relating to the total services, rendered, commissions, or some combination of the foregoing . . .” and concluded that: “It is not necessary that an investor pay a discrete fee specifically earmarked as payment for investment advice.”  Opinion.