Since the implementation of a new set of registration requirements under the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, the regulatory landscape for investment advisors has shifted dramatically, according to data compiled by the SEC's Division of Investment Management.
As of October, the SEC reported that 1,504 advisors who manage at least one private fund had registered with the agency since new rules took effect extending the registration requirements to advisors who work with hedge funds, private equity funds and other types of funds and who had previously been exempt from federal oversight.
At present, 37% of the private-fund advisors registered with the SEC filed their paperwork with the agency since the Dodd-Frank Act took effect. Private-fund advisors who were previously exempt from SEC registration faced a deadline of March 30, 2012 to sign up with the agency.
Additionally, advisors who remain exempt, such as those advising venture-capital funds or private funds with assets of less than $150 million, had the same March deadline to submit reports to the agency on Form ADV for the first time.
Then midsized advisors with assets of between $25 million and $100 million faced a June 28 deadline to indicate on their Form ADV that they were switching to regulation at the state level.
The SEC also reported that 310 private-fund advisors, or 8% of overall registrants, are based in foreign countries, with the lion's share of those operating out of Great Britain.
Advisors registered with the SEC reported that they advise more than 31,000 private funds with assets totaling about $8 trillion. Advisors who registered with the agency following the Dodd-Frank rules accounted for about 31% of the private-fund assets that the SEC oversees, a dramatic indication of the expanded regulatory oversight the agency gained through the bill. Of the private funds registered with the SEC, the primary asset classes are hedge funds (54% of private-fund assets) and private equity funds (23%).
Private funds account for 17% of all assets managed by registered advisors, according to the SEC.
Advisors to hedge funds, liquidity funds and private-equity funds also face a new SEC reporting requirement with Form PF. Beginning on June 15, the largest private fund advisors were required to submit information about their exposure to risk on a consistent basis in accordance with the SEC's newly defined "regulatory assets under management," which tallies gross assets and does not account for the subtraction of forms of leverage such as borrowings or short sales, distinguishing it from the commonly used net assets under management metric. The SEC has been phasing in reporting deadlines for other advisors, with all affected sectors of the industry obligated to file Form PF by next year.
Adding another wrinkle for financial professionals overseen by FINRA is a new set of requirements that took effect July 9 stipulating that brokers must make investment recommendations that are demonstrably in the best interest of their customers. The so-called suitability requirement, which the SEC approved in November 2010, aims to bring consistency to standards for acting in investors' best interests that previously had been the subject of various court decisions.