California Regulates Use of Placement Agents

California

California has followed the lead of New York and started regulating the use of placement agents. California’s law requires placement agents to disclose contributions and gifts made to state and local pension and retirement board members, as well as information about the placement agent’s compensation, the services provided, and any lobbying or regulatory registrations.

The California law is based on disclosure. It does not ban the use of placement agents like New York and as proposed by the SEC

The new California law (Assembly Bill No. 1584) went  into effect on October 11, 2009 when Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law. The law establishes a disclosure-based regime that requires:

  • Potential placement agents, prior to acting to solicit a potential state or local public pension or retirement system investment, must disclose campaign contributions and gifts to public pension board members during the prior 24 months.
  • Placement agents must disclose any subsequent gifts and campaign contributions to pension or retirement board members for as long as they are being paid to solicit investments.
  • Each state and local public pension system must develop and implement policies requiring disclosure of payments to placement agents by external asset managers by June 30, 2010. The new disclosures must include, at a minimum, the following information:
    • the existence of the relationship;
    • a résumé for each officer, partner or principal of the placement agent;
    • a description of compensation paid to the placement agent;
    • a description of services to be performed by the placement agent;
    • a statement of whether the placement agent, or its affiliates, is registered with the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority  or other regulatory body; and
    • a statement of whether the placement agent, or its affiliates, is registered as a lobbyist with any state or the federal government.
  • A state or local public pension or retirement system may not enter into an agreement with any asset manager that does not agree in writing to comply with any such policy.
  • Any placement agent or external manager that violates any such policy is barred from soliciting new investments from that state or local retirement system for five years from the time of the violation.

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