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Identifying and Addressing the Primary Conflicts of Interest in the Hedge Fund Management Business

Regulators and investors routinely scrutinize how fund managers address conflicts of interest. The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, for example, consistently evaluates fund managers’ handling of conflicts of interest pursuant to its yearly examination priorities. See “Retail Investors Top list of OCIE 2018 Exam Priorities” (Mar. 8, 2018). Regulators also initiate enforcement actions to address conflicts of interest that are not appropriately managed, handled and documented. See “SEC Charges Philip A. Falcone, Harbinger Capital Partners and Related Entities and Individuals With Misappropriation of Client Assets, Granting of Preferential Redemptions and Market Manipulation” (Jun. 28, 2012). Left unchecked, conflicts can ripen into legal violations. Accordingly, hedge fund managers must be vigilant in identifying and addressing conflicts. While the details of conflicts may differ from firm to firm, certain general conflicts pervade the industry. In a guest article, John Ackerley, then-director at and current CEO of Carne Global Financial Services in the Cayman Islands, provides a checklist of those pervasive conflicts and discusses specific measures that hedge fund managers can take to mitigate such conflicts. This article can be useful as a reference point in a mock examination, to prepare for marketing meetings and for other purposes. See “Absence of Harm No Defense Against Conflicts of Interest: SEC Issues Lifetime Bar From Compliance Work to CCO” (Sep. 13, 2018); and “SEC Enforcement Action Highlights Highly Specific Regulatory Focus on Conflicts of Interest” (Jan. 25, 2018).

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