This blog is a follow up to our Change to New York IAR Registration blog, and a reminder that the August 31st deadline to submit a waiver for registration to New York is looming. Effective February 1, 2021, New York now requires Individuals to register in the state. Previously, NY has not held 65/66 licenses; however, this has changed. Note the registration standards for state-registered firms and SEC-registered firms differ. State-Registered Firms The new rule requires all investment adviser representatives with more than five clients in the state of New York to register as an investment adviser, unless exempt from Read more about New York IAR Registration Waiver Deadline Reminder[…]
Advisory representatives are prohibited from accepting anything of value that might influence their investment decisions or serve to reward them in connection with their investment advisory activities. Additionally, advisory representatives are expected to refrain from knowingly conducting advisory business with any individuals or entities that use gifts, gratuities, or other items of value to bribe or influence others.
The provision and receipt of gifts and business entertainment by investment advisers and their employees are subject to pervasive regulation. Firms are to supervise and document all gifts and gratuities given to or received from any clients and prospective clients. The rule protects against the improprieties that may arise when firms or their associated persons gives gifts or gratuities. Firms must take any action to identify or examine the nature, frequency, extent and dollar amount to determine if such gifts and/or gratuities are in compliance with the firm’s policies. RIA’s are to adopt a policy governing professional conduct and conflicts of interest. Such policy is to provide that all associated persons have high standards of performance, integrity, productivity and professionalism. The firm should monitor for any and all conflicts of interest that could result, including instances of preferential treatment over other clients.
All advisers registered with the SEC must adopt and enforce a written code of ethics reflecting the adviser’s fiduciary duties to its clients. The firm’s code of ethics is required to meet minimum standards to appropriately address conflicts of interest identified by the firm. To ensure compliance with the code of ethics requirements, a written acknowledgement should be obtained from each supervised person confirming receipt of the firm’s code of ethics. Firms with more than one access person are should also ensure transaction reporting is being done by all access persons.
Outside Business Activities (“OBAs”) of individuals can create potential conflicts of interests with the registered investment advisers that employ them. Advisors are responsible for providing written notice before they act as an employee, independent contractor, sole proprietor, officer, director or partner of another person; or receive compensation or have the expectation of compensation from any other person as a result of any business activity outside the scope of the relationship with their registered investment adviser.
Additionally, this includes situations where compensation is to be paid or if there is a reasonable expectation of compensation as a result of any business activity outside the scope of the relationship with his or her firm. Passive investments are exempted from this requirement. To ensure all individuals are compliant with OBA requirements, make sure your firm reviews the following.
Registered investment advisers (“RIAs”) should ensure training is assigned periodically to keep covered persons up to date on industry and product related topics. In planning, developing, and implementing an RIA’s training plan, firms should consider its size, structure, and the scope of its business activities, as well as any regulatory developments. After training is assigned, it is important to follow up to ensure completion by all assigned individuals.
Investment advisers should consider the need to perform a branch office inspection of branch offices pursuant to a branch office inspection schedule. Firms should consider whether a branch audit is warranted using factors such as nature and complexity of the branch’s business, volume of business, complaints, disclosures, number of registered persons, and other relevant factors determined by the firm. Firms are to document the exam schedules for each branch office including a description of the factors used to determine the exam cycle for such locations.
Various states require investment advisers to conduct regular inspections of their branch offices. For example, an investment adviser registered in Georgia is required to inspect each office location at least annually to ensure that its written policies and procedures are enforced. Even when an investment adviser is not explicitly required to conduct branch inspections, it should still implement a branch inspection program as part of its supervisory procedures. Also, investment advisers lacking an adequate branch office inspection program expose themselves to significant liability for failure to supervise in the event misconduct at the branch goes undetected.