SEC Commissioner Walter Explains How an Overworked and Under-Resourced SEC Staff Can Nonetheless Examine Private Fund Advisers Effectively

On April 16, 2013, SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter addressed the 2013 NASAA Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.  The general theme of Walter’s address was that with respect to examinations of investment advisers, federal and state securities regulators have more obligations than they have resources.  Specifically, the Dodd-Frank Act reallocated responsibility for examinations of small and mid-sized investment advisers from the SEC to state securities regulators.  See “NASAA Report Identifies Most Commonly Cited Investment Adviser Deficiencies Found in Coordinated State Adviser Examinations and Recommends Compliance Best Practices for Mid-Sized Hedge Fund Managers,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 5, No. 12 (Mar. 22, 2012).  While part of the intent of this reallocation of responsibility was to “free up” the SEC’s examination resources, Dodd-Frank may have increased the SEC’s total workload by bringing private fund advisers under its regulatory, examination and enforcement auspices.  See “Challenges Faced By, Risks Encountered By and Lessons Learned From First Filers of Form PF,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Jan. 24, 2013).  In short, state securities regulators have more advisers to examine and federal securities regulators have larger and more complex advisers to examine.  Yet neither has materially more budget.  So how are the various regulators supposed to conduct adequate examinations and protect investors?  Walter’s speech was intended, in part, to address that question by sharing the SEC’s learning with her state counterparts.  To do so, Walter discussed the challenges presented by small firms; three specific ways in which SEC examination staff members have remained effective in light of limited resources; and relevant examination statistics.  Walter’s speech was, in effect, a follow-up to her statement on the SEC’s 2011 Study on Enhancing Investment Adviser Examinations.  For a discussion of that study, and of Walter’s contemporaneous statement, see “Key Insights for Registered Hedge Fund Managers from the SEC’s Recently Released Study on Investment Adviser Examinations,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 4, No. 5 (Feb. 10, 2011).

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