The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced a new initiative aimed at investment advisers who are registered with the agency but have never been scrutinized.
The National Exam Program, run by the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, will conduct either a risk assessment or focused review of investment advisers registered with the agency for three or more years, concentrating on compliance programs, filings and disclosures, marketing, portfolio management, and safekeeping of client assets, according to the SEC announcement.
“Our examinations will focus on areas most important to protecting investors,” said Jane Jarcho, national associate director of the exam program, in a statement. “We will also promote compliance by engaging with these advisers through outreach efforts.”
Kelley Howes, of counsel at Morrison & Foerster, explains that any of the SEC’s targeted areas is fair game for scrutiny. A review of an investment adviser’s compliance program, for instance, will ascertain whether it is reasonably designed to prevent violations of the Investment Advisers Act, and a look into filings and disclosures will determine whether documents contain all material facts concerning conflicts of interest. Marketing materials will be examined for false or misleading statements, and portfolio decision-making practices could also come under inspection.
Any deficiencies discovered through the review could be referred to the SEC’s Division of Enforcement for further action, Howes reports.
The SEC will hold regional outreach meetings to inform advisers about the details of the new examination process.