Key Elements of Electronic Communications Policies and Procedures for Hedge Fund Managers

Electronic communications technologies – such as phone, email, instant messaging and social media – are essential to the efficient operations of hedge fund managers. They also pose considerable regulatory, litigation, reputational and trading risks, however, and can lead to the downfall of a manager if not properly handled. Moreover, electronic communications are among the most difficult categories of information to contain; they are indelible, are pervasive and often determine the outcome of private and government litigation. Yet more often than not, these communications are drafted under the mistaken impression that they are as easy to erase as they are to create. Despite a lengthy list of cases illustrating the fallacy in this notion, hedge fund manager personnel continue to create and send electronic communications that fail the commonly used litmus test: “If you wouldn’t want it on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, don’t send it.” This article seeks to assist hedge fund managers in creating, refining and enforcing electronic communications policies and procedures by cataloguing the various types of electronic communications technologies used by hedge fund manager personnel, as well as the categories of communications that may be created with those technologies; identifying specific risks arising out of the various communications and technologies; and outlining the key elements of electronic communications policies and procedures. For more on electronic communications, see our three-part series: “SEC Takes Steps to Drill Drown” (Nov. 30, 2017); “Information Request List Provides Insight Into SEC Expectations on Their Use by Advisers and Employees” (Dec. 7, 2017); and “Six Key Issues to Address in Electronic Communication Policies and Guidance on Preparing for Future Scrutiny” (Dec. 14, 2017).

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