What Do Hedge Fund Managers Need to Know to Prepare For, Handle and Survive SEC Examinations?  (Part One of Three)

By July 21, 2011, many hedge fund managers that previously were not required to register with the SEC as investment advisers will be required to register.  Specifically, two categories of hedge fund managers will be required to register with the SEC as investment advisers: (1) hedge fund managers with assets under management in the U.S. of at least $150 million that manage solely private funds; and (2) hedge fund managers with assets under management in the U.S. between $100 million and $150 million that manage at least one private fund and at least one other type of investment vehicle (for example, a managed account).  Registration will subject previously unregistered hedge fund managers to a range of new regulatory obligations and burdens.  One of the most notable new burdens is that registered hedge fund managers will be subject to SEC examinations.  (Generally, unregistered hedge fund managers are not subject to examinations, though they may be subject to subpoenas or information requests from the SEC where the agency suspects fraud or violation of the federal securities laws.)  To assist newly registered (or soon to be registered) hedge fund managers and other registered investment advisers in preparing for, handling and surviving SEC examinations, the Regulatory Compliance Association’s 2011 Spring Asset Management Thought Leadership Symposium will include a session entitled “Regulatory Examinations – Briefing on Latest Inquiries from SEC and NFA Staff.”  That RCA Symposium will take place on April 7, 2011 at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square in New York.  The Hedge Fund Law Report recently conducted detailed interviews with three of the thought leaders scheduled to participate in the Regulatory Examinations session at the RCA’s April Symposium: Steven A. Yadegari, Senior Vice President & General Counsel at Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn, LLC; Stephen A. McShea, General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer at Larch Lane Advisors LLC; and Matthew Eisenberg, Partner at Finn Dixon & Herling LLP.  Those interviews provide a preview of the topics to be discussed at the RCA Symposium, and offer detailed insights, practical strategies and actionable recommendations for newly registered hedge fund managers facing the prospect of regulatory examinations – in many cases, for the first time.  We are publishing these interviews as a three-part series.  The full text of our interview with Steven Yadegari is included in this issue of the Hedge Fund Law Report; our interview with Stephen McShea will be published in next week’s issue; and our interview with Matthew Eisenberg will be published in the following week’s issue.  Our interview with Steven Yadegari, included in full below, covered a wide range of relevant topics, including but not limited to: the statutory authority upon which the SEC relies in conducting examinations; the SEC’s authority to examine unregistered hedge fund managers; the three primary types of inspections and examinations; when to disclose examinations to hedge fund investors, and what to avoid in the course of disclosure; how the presence of multiple SEC divisions with authority over hedge fund managers impacts the examination process; the goals and objectives that hedge fund managers should aspire to when under examination; the average length of time between notification and initiation of an exam; grounds (if any) upon which the SEC may grant a delayed exam start date; the advisability of creating a regulatory exam preparation group; the SEC’s move to so-called “risk-based” exams, and the import of that move for hedge fund managers; how exams have evolved in terms of length or duration; the interaction between interviews of key personnel and presentations to SEC staff; whether presentations should be written or only oral; the utility of mock examinations; books and records rules as applied to mock examinations; and steps hedge fund managers can take to strike the right “tone at the top.”

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