Division of Examinations’ 2021 Exam Priorities: New and Emerging Focus Areas (Part One of Two)

The SEC’s Division of Examinations recently published its 2021 Examination Priorities (Priorities), which reflect the new Biden administration’s increased regulatory focus on securities market participants – including private fund managers. Understanding the Priorities and preparing for an exam in advance is the best defense fund managers can have against prolonged regulatory inquiries and possible enforcement actions. In preparation for an exam, private fund managers should ensure they have robust policies and procedures in place that address perennial risk areas, such as disclosures of conflicts of interest. They should also cover new and emerging risk areas, such as liquidity; environment, social and governance investing; pandemic and recent economic impacts on investment portfolios; disclosure of investment risks; scrutiny of non-performing assets; and digital assets. In a two-part guest series, Jane Jarcho, Sarah Curran and Drew Weilbacher from Promontory Financial Group summarize the topics discussed in the Priorities and include their expectations regarding specific focus areas, documents that an exam team might request and potential individuals who are likely to be interviewed. This first article addresses new or emerging focus areas, and the second article will discuss perennial focus areas in private fund manager exams. For additional commentary from Promontory staff, see our two-part series “Present and Former SEC Leaders Discuss the SEC’s Approach to Exams and Enforcement During the Coronavirus Pandemic”: Part One (Jul. 16, 2020); and Part Two (Jul. 23, 2020).

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