OCIE Letter Foreshadows Examination Activity Focused on Municipal Advisors

On August 19, 2014, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) published a letter announcing its intention to examine certain municipal advisors (MAs) that must register with the SEC between July 1 and October 31, 2014 and that are not registered with FINRA.  In its letter addressed to MA senior executives and principals, OCIE explained that it will be examining a “significant percentage” of the newly registered MAs through a National Exam Program (NEP).  MAs must register with the SEC under Section 975 of Dodd-Frank, which amended Section 15B of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and they owe fiduciary duties to the municipal pension funds that they advise.  Hedge fund managers should understand the SEC’s agenda concerning the upcoming MA examinations because certain pension fund advisers – critical gatekeepers between hedge fund managers and the considerable volume of retirement assets available for investment – may be deemed to be MAs and therefore scrutinized as part of NEP’s initiative.  See “Getting to Know the Gatekeepers: How Hedge Fund Managers Can Interface with Investment Consultants to Access Institutional Capital (Part One of Two),” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 6, No. 27 (Jul. 11, 2013).  In turn, hedge fund managers should understand the total range of concerns bearing on the entities to which they market, or on the intermediaries serving those entities; to the extent pension consultants are under increased examination pressure, managers’ marketing efforts, other things being equal, are more likely to be successful if they take those pressures into account.

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