A Roadmap and Recommendations for Hedge Fund Managers Facing Presence Examinations

In the fall of 2012, the SEC unleashed its latest tactic aimed at identifying potential issues and deficiencies for newly registered investment advisers – the “presence examination.”  See “OCIE Warns Newly Registered Hedge Fund Advisers to Watch Out for ‘Presence Examinations,’” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 5, No. 39 (Oct. 11, 2012).  These “focused, risk-based” examinations came on the heels of the recent influx of SEC registrants (resulting from Dodd-Frank legislation) and are driven in large part by the limited resources available to the SEC staff.  Namely, of the more than 4,000 private fund advisers registered with the SEC (as of April 2013), more than 1,500 registered since July 21, 2010, representing an increase of more than 50 percent in registered private fund advisers.  Through the Presence Examination initiative, the SEC is looking to reach as many of these new registrants as possible, substituting mini risk-based examinations in lieu of traditional “full-blown” examinations, which have historically proved ineffective at reaching the masses.  As of April 2013, approximately 20 percent of all advisers that have been registered for more than three years had never been examined.  In an April 16, 2013 speech at the 2013 NASAA Public Policy conference, SEC Commissioner Elisse B. Walter noted that the Presence Exam initiative creates a way to “meaningfully engage, assess risk, and establish a presence and credibility” with new registrants, serving as a reminder that “we’re out here, keeping an eye on things.”  Many newly registered private fund managers will face presence examinations in the next two years.  In a guest article, Jillian Timmermans, a Partner and Vice President at Cordium, provides a roadmap and practical recommendations that will help such managers navigate the presence examination process more effectively.

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